High Body Mass Index for Age Among US Children and Adolescents

This article examines whether the percentage of children with high body mass index varied between 2003 and 2006. While the prevalence of childhood obesity has increased since the 1980s, this research can provide a better understanding of recent trends in childhood obesity. 

The authors analyzed data from 8,165 children who completed the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2003 and 2006. Height and weight measurements were used to calculate the prevalence of Body Mass Index (BMI) above the 85th, 95th and 97th percentiles of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) BMI-for-age growth charts.

Key Findings:

  • Prevalence of high BMI did not change over the time period studied, and was also consistent with earlier studies from 1999.
  • 11 percent of children aged two through 19 years had BMI at or above the 97th percentile of standardized CDC growth charts. Prevalence of children above the 97th percentile ranged by age and race.

Although rates of overweight have increased for children in the past two decades, there was no statistically significant change in the prevalence of high BMI between 2003 and 2006.