Should We Check Childrens’ BMI?

Posted on 21st June 2011 in BMI/ childhood obesity/ NHS/ obesity

For National Childhood Obesity Week (4 -10 July 2011), NHS Choices, the health information website for the NHS, is asking parents to to check their child’s body mass index (BMI) and take a more proactive approach to managing their child’s weight.

I’ve used the checker (which you can visit here: and it says that one of my boys (who are both under 7 stone and are aged 9 & 11) just scrapes into the healthy section and the other is overweight! 

Here is a picture of the little monkeys – they look fine (for fine read perfect) to me.

Is allowing access to this information a good thing or a bad thing – should I now be putting them on a diet?

According to statistics from NHS Choices, three in 10 children in Britain are overweight or obese. Children who are overweight in childhood are more likely to become overweight adults. They are also at risk of developing serious health conditions that carrying excess weight can bring, such as diabetes.

Unlike most BMI checking tools, NHS Choices has an online BMI checker that is suitable for children aged two and above. Parents or guardians simply need to provide details about the sex, age, height and weight of their child and the tool will provide a percentile result informing the parent or guardian if their child is a healthy weight. For more information about managing children’s diet, health and fitness, whatever their BMI, then visit NHS Choices. If parents or guardians are very concerned about their child’s weight, they should visit their GP. 

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  • Reply TheMadHouse 21st June 2011 at 3:39 pm

    I think that this is not a good idea, Way back when I was young we had a school nurse and it was her job to keep an eye out for the fat children and the nits!

    I received a letter from the school this week informing me, Mini is nearly overweight, WTF! He is nearly 5 and pretty tall for his age and is stocky, but there isn’t an once of fat on him, puppy or otherwise and Maxi well he is as skinny as they come, but the fact is that both boys are very, very active and have been out on their bikes since getting in from school.

    The NHS needs to target the parents that don’t give a shit, rather than the ones that do. My boys have at least their 5 a day, they tell me off if they haven’t, but there are children at their school that didn’t know that chips were potatoes. These are the families that need educating.

  • Reply Kate 21st June 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I was waiting for this to happen to me as Missy Woo got weighed and measured not long back and last year, they sent all the stats home. They never arrived! Anyway, she is nearly as tall as her bro, and is by far the tallest girl in reception, despite being one of the youngest. Her weight therefore must be higher too. There is nothing wrong with her. Let anyone tell me she’s overweight and I’ll tell them to bog off. They told me Monkey was “big” as a baby. He was over 26lbs at a year but at his two year check a month past his second birthday, he was only just over 30lbs. It comes and goes.

  • Reply Kelly 21st June 2011 at 4:25 pm

    I think informing parents that their children are overweight by the use of BMI is shocking and it disgusts me. If i were the weight my BMI suggests i should be for my age/height then i would look anorexic and unhealthy, as do most of the people i see who have a ‘healthy BMI’. I’m not a parent myself so i don’t really know what process is taken in school to take these tests and things (too lazy to click the link sorry!), but your children look perfectly healthy and happy to me. Exactly which one is supposed to be overweight? It’s rediculous. Common sense has gone out the window. Telling you your chilld is overweight is insulting when they clearly aren’t. *insert more grumbles and rants here*

    Kinda glad i don’t have children haha!

  • Reply marketingtomilk 21st June 2011 at 5:59 pm

    no we shouldn’t.


  • Reply Lauren 21st June 2011 at 6:26 pm

    It is ridiculous, I just did my two year old who is tall and skinny and was told that he is severely overweight!

  • Reply Him Up North 21st June 2011 at 9:16 pm

    Invert the question. Can all parents be trusted to make the right dietary and lifestyle choices for their children?

    I’m all for letting parents get on with parenting, and it’s hard enough without being bombarded with yardsticks. But lifestyles and foodstuffs change, as do social conventions. There’s every chance there might be a personal AND societal time bomb waiting to go off when our children grow up.

    In that context I don’t think being given a piece of guideline information now is that bad a thing.

    Ohh I appear to have gone out on a limb. And it’s creaking…

  • Reply Jayne sunley 22nd June 2011 at 6:37 am

    Dwfinately NO! My 11 year old girl who is tall and toned due to lots of ballet and sport also just scraped thro.

    Girls being girls all share results and bitchiness ensues. I worry about long term impact of all this rubbish on body image and self esteem. It cld easily lead to eating problems.

  • Reply Mummy Beadzoid 22nd June 2011 at 7:20 pm

    Your children look perfect.

    Have to admit this all makes me quite mad that perfectly healthy children can be categorised as overwight, or ‘almost overweight’. What the hell does that mean anyway? Surely ‘almost’ is NOT overweight.

    However, where kids are blatantly unhealthy then I think a bit of intervention is perfectly reasonable. I do think that bad eating habits get passed on in families who perhaps just need someone to make them think about the food their child is eating. That should only be when a child is obviously overweight though, not merely carrying a bit of puppy fat which as someone else said ‘comes and goes’.

    I do however disagree profoundly with the assertion in one of the comments above that “most” adults with a healthy BMI look unhealthy and anorexic. I’m damned sure I and others I know look perfectly fine and I think that kind of attitude is a little unhelpful and not at all a moderate response to what can be quite a sensitive issue.

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