Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:


Establishing a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide: international survey

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 06 May 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:1240

Rapid Response:

Underweight in children – how show we define fine it?

Editor - Cole et al (the International Obesity Task Force (IOFT))
have suggested a new definition of overweight and obesity in children.[1]
The authors argue that the new definition is less arbitrary and more
international than others, and should encourage direct comparison of
trends in child obesity worldwide.

Unfortunately, the authors did not provide definition for
underweight, which is still very important public health problem
especially in many low income countries.[2] As the IOTF definition is more
international and encouraging researchers like me to adopt these new
categories, it will be very useful if they could provide additional
definition for underweight, which might help in assessing and addressing
the underweight problem as well as overweight and obesity problem. This
will also help researchers to be more consistent rather than using this
new definition for overweight and obesity, and the old definition for


1. Cole TJ, Bellizi MC, Flegal KM & Dietz WH (2000): Establishing
a standard definition for child overweight and obesity worldwide:
international survey. BMJ. 320, 1240–1243.

3. Svedberg P. Declining child malnutrition: a reassessment. Int J
Epidemiol. 2006;35(5):1336-46.

2. de Assis MA, Rolland-Cachera MF, Grosseman S, de Vasconcelos FA,
Luna ME, Calvo MC, Barros MV, Pires MM, Bellisle F. Obesity, overweight
and thinness in schoolchildren of the city of Florianopolis, Southern
Brazil. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2005;59(9):1015-21.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

01 February 2007
Charles Agyemang, PhD
Senior Researcher
Department of Social Medicine, Academic Medical Centre, 1100 DD, Amsterdam, The Netherlands