When a child’s height and weight is measured we compare it to a child growth chart. We can also use their height and weight to calculate their body mass index (BMI) and see how this compares to other children their age. If the BMI is lower than average your child might be underweight and if their BMI is above average your child might be overweight or obese (very overweight for his/her age).
I’m worried that my child might be overweight?
If you are concerned that your child may be gaining too much weight for his/her height, you should first check their height and weight and put these values into a BMI calculator. To measure your child’s height and weight at home follow these instructions (height/weight measurement). Use the BMI calculator below to check what your child’s BMI is today.
To measure your child’s height at home:
- Remove the child's shoes, bulky clothing, and hair ornaments, or ponytails that can interfere with the measurement.
- Take the height measurement on flooring that is not carpeted and against a flat surface such as a flat wall
- Have the child stand with feet flat, together, and with heels against the wall. Make sure legs are straight, arms are at sides, and shoulders are level.
- Make sure the child is looking straight ahead and that their chin is parallel with the floor.
- Take the measurement while the child stands with head, shoulders, buttocks, and heels touching the wall.
- Use a ruler or something flat to form a right angle with the wall and lower the ruler until it firmly touches the crown of the head.
- Lightly mark where the bottom of the ruler meets the wall. Then, use a metal tape to measure from the base on the floor to the marked measurement on the wall to get the height measurement.
- Accurately record the height to the nearest 1/8th inch or 0.1 centimeter.
Measuring Weight At Home
- Place the scale on firm flooring (such as tile or wood) rather than carpet.
- Have the child or teen remove shoes and heavy clothing, such as jumpers.
- Have the child or teen stand with both feet in the center of the scale.
- Record the weight to the nearest fraction (for example, 4 stone and 5.5 pounds or 25.1 kilograms).
My child is overweight, what now?
If the result of this calculation is that your child is overweight, you can try changing some things at home in order to keep their weight stable while they continue to grow taller. For some ideas, see here
. At your child’s next GP visit you should discuss your concern with your GP. Your GP will monitor your child’s growth and help you to balance your child’s weight as he/she grows.
My child is obese, what now?
If the result of the BMI calculation is that your child is obese, you should bring your child to your GP.
1. Your GP will monitor your child’s growth and give you advice on how to help your child to grow in a healthy way.
2. Your GP may refer your child to a registered dietitian in your local area to help you learn about the best foods and portion sizes for your child.
3.Your GP may otherwise refer your child to see a Paediatrician (doctor specialising in child health) in one of the children’s hospitals. You will visit the paediatric clinic in the outpatient department and your paediatrician will assess your child. The paediatrician may decide to refer your child to a children’s service (local dietitian) if available in your area or to another health professional in the children’s hospital.
4. If your GP refers your child to see a paediatrician (or other consultant) in Children’s Health Ireland (Temple Street/Crumlin/Tallaght/Connolly) you could then access the W82GO service. Unfortunately we cannot accept referrals from doctors based outside Children’s Health Ireland at this time
5. If your consultant refers your child to W82GO, we will book you in for an appointment in our multidisciplinary clinic
Please see our parent information leaflet here
and the FAQ below.
You should also try changing some things at home in order to keep their weight stable while they continue to grow taller. For some ideas, see here.
What causes children to become overweight?
- Eating the wrong foods (food with lots of sugar, fat and salt) or large portions of healthy foods
- Family attitudes towards food (e.g. clearing the plate)
- Drinking sugary drinks (drink water instead)
- Not moving and playing enough
- Sitting down too much (watching TV, playing computer games or using the Internet)
- Eating adult sized portions (we should not be eating the same amount as our parents!)
- Not sleeping enough at night