There are many reasons the number of children considered obese is growing at an alarming rate in the United States. Children don’t get as much exercise as they should, with much of their time outside of school being spent in front of the television or in front of their computer screens. Combine a sedentary lifestyle with a poor diet and it’s a recipe for disaster. In fact, childhood obesity is one of the most common health problems pediatricians have to deal with. With that in mind, it’s important to know how childhood obesity is diagnosed.
How is childhood obesity diagnosed?
One of the most common ways a pediatrician decides if a child is overweight is by calculating the child’s Body Mass Index (BMI). The BMI test helps to determine if your child is overweight or obese by comparing it with the national average. The doctor will use a growth chart to decide how your child’s weight compares with children of the same sex and age. These calculations have been established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
If your child scores a 70% on the BMI test, it means that 70% of children who are the same age and gender have a lower BMI. According to this test, if children score between 85% to 95% in their population group, they are considered overweight. If they score a 95% or more, they are considered to be suffering from childhood obesity.
How accurate is a BMI measurement?
One problem with the BMI test is that it doesn’t take into consideration certain factors, including the muscularity of the child. Muscle weighs more than fat does, so it can throw off a BMI percentage. It’s important to remember that although BMI tests are a good indication, they are not a measurement of body fat itself, which is the most crucial issue associated with childhood obesity.
What other tests play into a childhood obesity diagnosis?
If a pediatrician finds that your child is obese, he or she will use a number of tests to determine the reason for it. One of these methods is by conducting a blood sugar test. This determines how much blood sugar or glucose is in the blood, and if they are at dangerously high levels. The second is a cholesterol test to measure if your child’s cholesterol is at dangerous levels. The third is a test to check for hormone imbalances that can affect your child’s weight. Your child’s pediatrician might ask that your child eat a restricted diet for a certain length of time. Although this might be bothersome for your child, it’s imperative for achieving accurate test results.
If one of these tests identifies the reason for your child’s obesity, the pediatrician might suggest a change in diet and exercise to help with the problem. Your child might not be able to breathe as effectively as children with healthier body weights, making exercising somewhat dangerous. In this case, your child’s pediatrician might prescribe medication to help with lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels before regular exercise is suggested.