Testing & Diagnosis for Childhood Obesity in Children

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Contact the Optimal Weight For Life Program (OWL)

  • 1-617-355-5159

How is obesity in children diagnosed? 

To determine if a child is obese, a doctor will use the child's body mass index (BMI) to obtain a percentile ranking. BMI is a measure of weight in relation to height and it indicates the amount of body fat your child has.

BMI is a measure of weight in relation to height and indicates the amount of body fat your child has. If your child’s BMI falls at or above the 95th percentile, he is considered obese. In this case, your child’s doctor might do a full physical exam and screen for the following:

  • diabetes
  • high blood pressure
  • abnormal blood lipids (high cholesterol, high triglycerides, and low levels of good, HDL cholesterol)
  • fatty liver
  • menstrual problems in girls
  • psychological problems

Your child is considered overweight and at risk for obesity if his BMI falls between the 85th and 95th percentiles. In this case, your doctor might screen for the following:

  • family history of cardiovascular disease, elevated total cholesterol, diabetes, parental obesity
  • large increases in BMI assessments from year to year
  • person concerns about weight, (emotional or psychological)
  • concerns related to weight and perception of self as overweight
  • blood pressure
We are grateful to have been ranked #1 on U.S. News & World Report's list of the best children's hospitals in the nation for the third year in a row, an honor we could not have achieved without the patients and families who inspire us to do our very best for them. Thanks to you, Boston Children's is a place where we can write the greatest children's stories ever told.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944

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