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September 1991

Obesity and Body-Mass Index

Author Affiliations

Baylor College of Medicine Adolescent Medicine 6621 Fannin Houston, TX 77030

Am J Dis Child. 1991;145(9):972. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1991.02160090022012

Sir.—The discussion on the percentile curves of body-mass index (BMI) by Hammer et al1 alerts the pediatrician to another method of getting more involved in clinical nutrition. Pediatricians see a significant amount of nutritional problems, especially obesity, and can apply these curves to help improve the patient's weight per height. However, the authors hedge on the diagnosis of obesity by saying "... we have found the 95th percentile BMI to be a conservative cutoff point for defining obesity in childhood." There are better criteria for defining obesity, especially for adolescents. These can be extracted from the National Center for Health Statistics2 and were recently reprinted.3 Using these tables for ages 12 to 17 years, the ideal body weight can be estimated, and obesity can be defined as greater than 20% above the ideal body weight. We recommend that clinicians post these tables in their offices and refer

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