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What Is a BMI Report Card?

My son is 6 years old, and I just got his BMI report card from school. It says he is overweight. What does that mean? What do I do now?
- Amy

BMI, or body mass index, is a calculation that uses height and weight to estimate how much body fat a person has. Childhood obesity is on the rise and in response many schools are adding BMI to the annual health screening of their students.

Though some parents are uncomfortable with the idea of a BMI report card, a child who is overweight is at increased risk of developing health problems, such as high blood pressure and diabetes. Parents are encouraged to share this information with their child's doctor, who can help interpret the results and make recommendations.

Here are some tips to help kids maintain a healthy weight:

  • Encourage kids to be active every day. Experts recommend that kids get 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily.
  • Offer fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks and encourage your child to eat five or more servings a day.
  • Serve appropriate portion sizes.
  • Limit sugar-sweetened beverages and offer low-fat milk or water instead.
  • Limit screen time (time spent watching TV, playing video games, using a smartphone, computer, or other device) to less than 2 hours a day.
  • Set a good example by eating healthy, being physically active, and limiting the time you spend in front of a screen.

Reviewed by: Mary L. Gavin, MD
Date reviewed: September 2015