Evidence suggests that the prevalence of overweight and obesity has been increasing among children in the United States. A recent US study looking at trends in body mass index (BMI) in children and adolescents aged 2-19 years has shown some interesting and controversial results.1 Height and weight measurements were obtained from over 8000 children and adolescents over the period 2003-2006. These data were compared with those for 1999-2003. Overall, 11.3% of the participants were at or above the 97th percentile of growth for age charts created in 2000 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 16% were at or above the 95th percentile, and 32% were at or above the 85th. Surprisingly, the prevalence of high BMI for age showed no significant changes between 2003-2004 and 2005-2006, and there were no significant trends detected between 1999 and 2006. An accompanying editorial2 comments on the usefulness of BMI as a measure of childhood obesity, and discusses the validity of cut-off points and BMI percentiles in the definition of childhood overweight and obesity. The authors of the editorial also question how well BMI-for-age percentiles predict the risk for obesity-related disease.
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