•   Fall is here.  School is in session. The children are back in school, another grade older.  My, how they have grown over the summer!  The measurement of the heights and weights of the children is a milestone for them as well as for their parents.  "How tall am I?" "How much do I weigh?" , they ask.  Did you, as a parent or guardian, ever wonder what these milestone statistics represent?
      The height and weight statistics are now used to calculate the BMI for your child.  And what is BMI?  BMI (BODY MASS INDEX) is a number calculated from a child's height and weight and gender. BMI doesn't actually measure body fat.  The amount of body fat changes with age, as well as with gender.  The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends every child every year to have their BMI assessed.  Here at Hollidaysburg Area School District, the BMI is calculated on your child once his/her height and weight is measured.  A written assessment of your child's BMI will be sent home with their 2nd marking period grade assessment in January.
       How does one interpret the BMI calculation?  In adults, the BMI is easy to interpret.  A BMI between 25 to 30 is considered overweight and a BMI of 30 and above is considered obese.  The classifications for children is a little more confusing since the BMI measurement takes into account gender along with the height and weight. The term obese is not used in the categories of BMI in children.
       Overweight in children means that a child has a body mass index that is above the 95th percentile for his/her age.  Body mass weight in the 85th percentile means that a child is at risk of becoming overweight. Underweight or at risk of being underweight means that a child has a body mass index that is lower than the 5th percentile. Overweight, underweight, or at risk of becoming overweight or underweight deserves medical attention to be evaluated for the reason of BMI and weight.
      BMI categories for Kids
     Underweight --  BMI less than the 5th percentile
     Healthy Weight -- BMI 5th percentile up to the 85th percentile
     At Risk of Overwieght -- BMI 85th to less tahn 95th percentile
     Overweight -- BMI greater than oe equal to the 95th percentile
        It is possible to be over weight and not obese since BMI does not measure body fat.  A person, for instance who is athletic, may have large muscle mass that accounts for the large body weight.  A child that is at risk of becoming overweight could eventually become overweight.  Problems such as heart disease, high cholesterol, and diabetes could begin early and put an at risk/or overweight child.  Healthy lifestyles such as daily exercise and good eating habits should be started in early childhood.
       It is also possible to be at risk of/ underweight.  This can be normal if your child has been growing normally and has been eating a healthy diet and is active physically.  It is a problem when the child is not gaining weight normally, not eating well, has continual diarrhea or vomiting, a poor appetite  and diet, and is lethargic.  Medical intervention should search for a cause for being underweight.
     The bottom line is eat healthy and exercise and one's BMI should fall into the Health Weight Category.