Arrow-right Camera
News >  Spokane

Defining childhood obesity

Childhood obesity is a topic so sensitive, even health and medical experts have trouble talking about it.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not use the word “obese” for children and teens. Instead, the agency categorizes two levels of overweight based on the body mass index, which uses calculations of height and weight to determine body fat. Children in the 85th percentile of BMI are classified as “at risk of overweight,” while children in the 95th percentile of BMI are “overweight.”

Under these definitions, Cody Harris would be considered overweight by the CDC.

But the American Obesity Association challenges those categories, defining children in the 85th percentile as overweight and those in the 95th percentile as obese.

Officials there note that the 95th percentile corresponds to a BMI of 30, which is the designation for obesity in adults. The 85th percentile corresponds to a BMI of 25, which is considered overweight in adults.

In the past year, Cody Harris’ BMI fell from 34 to 30¾, health records showed.

“I wasn’t anticipating the change,” says his pediatrician, Dr. Duane Craddock. “With him we actually took a dent.”

JoNel Aleccia