BMI and Growth charts for children ages 2 to 20 years

During puberty, significant weight and height changes often occur quickly and may even appear to be erratic. Thus, gauging what constitutes a healthy weight and body mass index (BMI) can be difficult, and gauging whether concern is warranted over sudden weight changes in a girl or boy is difficult. Also, girls and boys may feel awkward about rapid changes in their physical appearance. Eating disorder clinical experts note that the average expected weight gain for girls is 40 pounds from age 11 to 14.

Information on children’s’ BMI and growth charts from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) can be found at ‘About Child and Teen BMI.’ The website includes BMI and weight/height development charts for boys and girls ages 2 to 20. CDC also provides ‘Clinical Growth Charts’ from birth through age 20 for males and females. A detailed report, ‘2000 CDC Growth Charts for the United States: Methods and Development (updated 2010),’ describes the methods used to develop those charts.

The growth charts consist of a series of percentile curves that illustrate the distribution of selected body measurements in U.S. children. Pediatricians, nurses, and parents use pediatric growth charts to track the growth of infants, children, and adolescents in the United States. They were first published in 1977 after being developed by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) as a clinical tool for health professionals to determine whether the growth of a child is adequate. When the 1977 NCHS growth charts were first developed, NCHS recommended that they be revised periodically as necessary, and they were comprehensively updated in 2000.

Growth charts are not intended to be used as a sole diagnostic instrument. Instead, growth charts are tools to help form an overall clinical impression for the child being measured. The revised growth charts also provide an improved tool to evaluate the growth of children in clinical and research settings.