Reference values for change in body mass index from birth to 18 years of age

Acta Paediatr. 2003 Jun;92(6):648-52.


Body mass index (BMI) has become the measure of choice for determination of nutritional status during the paediatric years, as in adults. Recently, several cross-sectional BMI childhood reference values standards have been published. In order precisely to evaluate childhood nutritional interventions, reference values allowing for the evaluation of changes in BMI values are also needed. For the first time, such reference values can be presented based on 3650 longitudinally followed healthy Swedish children born full term. The reference values for the change in BMI are given as the change in BMI standard deviation scores. The reference values are given as means of mathematical functions adjusting for gender, age of the child and the length of the interval between two measurements for interval lengths of 0.25 to 1.0 y before 2 y of age and of 1 to 5 y between birth and 18 y. The usefulness of the reference values is proved by a graph that forms a part of a clinical computer program; the -2 to +2 standard deviation range of the predicted change in BMI can be computed for an individual child and drawn in the graph as an extended support for clinical decision-making.

Conclusion: For the first time this communication gives access to BMI growth rate values that can be used both in research and in the clinic to evaluate various interventions, be they nutritional, surgical or therapeutic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Growth*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Reference Values
  • Registries
  • Sweden