Background Early detection of abnormal weight gain in childhood may be important for preventive purposes. It is still debated which annual changes in BMI should warrant attention. Aim To analyse 1-year increments of Body Mass Index (BMI) and standardised BMI (BMI SDS) in childhood and explore conditional change in BMI SDS as an alternative method to evaluate 1-year changes in BMI. Subjects and methods The distributions of 1-year increments of BMI (kg/m2) and BMI SDS are summarised by percentiles. Differences according to sex, age, height, weight, initial BMI and weight status on the BMI and BMI SDS increments were assessed with multiple linear regression. Conditional change in BMI SDS was based on the correlation between annual BMI measurements converted to SDS. Results BMI increments depended significantly on sex, height, weight and initial BMI. Changes in BMI SDS depended significantly only on the initial BMI SDS. The distribution of conditional change in BMI SDS using a two-correlation model was close to normal (mean = 0.11, SD = 1.02, n = 1167), with 3.2% (2.3-4.4%) of the observations below -2 SD and 2.8% (2.0-4.0%) above +2 SD. Conclusion Conditional change in BMI SDS can be used to detect unexpected large changes in BMI SDS. Although this method requires the use of a computer, it may be clinically useful to detect aberrant weight development.
Keywords: BMI increments; Overweight; childhood; early detection of risk.