Intended for healthcare professionals


Body mass index cut offs to define thinness in children and adolescents

BMJ 2007; 335 doi: (Published 26 July 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;335:166
  1. Noël Cameron, professor of human biology
  1. Centre for Human Development and Ageing, Department of Human Sciences, Loughborough University, Loughborough LE11 3TU
  1. N.Cameron{at}

    A new chart will be most useful in countries in social, economic, and nutritional transition where both undernutrition and overnutrition are prevalent

    Assessment of risk for overweight by monitoring body mass index is now recommended in developed countries and more recently in urban areas of less developed countries. Body mass index is known to track significantly from childhood, to adolescence, and then to adulthood.1 Body mass index should therefore be assessed and monitored during childhood and adolescence to allow for early, and perhaps more effective, intervention strategies. Tim Cole and colleagues' validated thresholds or cut offs for body mass index, recommended by the International Obesity Task Force to define and identify overweight and obesity in childhood,2 are internationally recognised.

    Rather less attention has been paid, however, to the importance of assessing body mass index to monitor undernutrition. In this week's BMJ, Cole and colleagues extend this work to provide cut offs for body mass index to define “thinness” in children and adolescents.3

    Malnutrition, or …

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