Measuring BMI change among children and adolescents

Pediatr Obes. 2022 Jun;17(6):e12889. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12889. Epub 2022 Jan 22.


Background: Weight control programs for children monitor BMI changes using BMI z-scores that adjust BMI for the sex and age of the child. It is, however, uncertain if BMIz is the best metric for assessing BMI change.

Objective: To identify which of 6 BMI metrics is optimal for assessing change. We considered a metric to be optimal if its short-term variability was consistent across the entire BMI distribution.

Subjects: 285 643 2- to 17-year-olds with BMI measured 3 times over a 10- to 14-month period.

Methods: We summarized each metric's variability using the within-child standard deviation.

Results: Most metrics' initial or mean value correlated with short-term variability (|r| ~ 0.3 to 0.5). The metric for which the within-child variability was largely independent (r = 0.13) of the metric's initial or mean value was the percentage of the 50th expressed on a log scale. However, changes in this metric between the first and last visits were highly (r ≥ 0.97) correlated with changes in %95th and %50th.

Conclusions: Log %50 was the metric for which the short-term variability was largely independent of a child's BMI. Changes in log %50th, %95th, and %50th are strongly correlated.

Keywords: BMI; PEDSnet; children; metrics; obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Mass Index*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy