Weight is best assessment of nutrition and growth of a child. It can be difficult to tell if a child is above a healthy weight as they may look similar to other children of their age. Weighing them and recording it, gives an accurate picture. This was underscored in an Australian study among children which reported that among children whose weight were classified as overweight and obesity, 86.4% of their parents described their children’s weight as healthy and only 13.3% thought their children were bigger than normal. Such Parents may see incorrectly public health campaigns or the pediatrician’s attempts to address their child’s weight as irrelevant or unhelpful.
Why is the weight of a child important?
In child care, the weight of a child is very important. It is part of the essential information collected for growth monitoring. Growth monitoring is the regular measurement of a child’s size (weight, height or length and head circumference) in order to document growth. The child’s size measurements must then be plotted on a growth chart. This is extremely important as it can detect early changes in a child’s growth. Both growing too slowly or too fast may indicate a nutritional or other health problem. Therefore, growth monitoring is an essential part of primary health care in children. Measuring a child’s size is of very little value unless it is used for growth monitoring.
Weight-for-age is usually used to monitor growth. It is particularly useful in small infants who normally gain or lose weight fast. Normal weight gain suggests that the infant is healthy and growing normally. Failure to gain weight normally or losing weight is often the earliest sign of illness or malnutrition. Therefore, a child’s weight should be measured both at home and at a clinic visit in order to monitor growth.
How are children’s weight measured?
Babies are usually weighed with baby scale. Babies should be weighed naked; wrapped in a blanket or other covering until weighing. A good baby scale can read differences up to as little as 10 grams.
Older children are weighed with the normal scale. They should be weighed with minimal clothing. If it is socially unacceptable to undress the child, as much clothing as possible should be removed. The weight of children less than 2 years who cannot stand and may be too big for the baby scale is gotten by subtracting the weight of the mother alone from the weight of the mother and the child. Children more than 2 years old are simply weighed with the scale with as little clothing as possible and barefooted.
How are children’s weights interpreted?
Oftentimes, to have a better appreciation of a child’s growth, the height or length is measured in addition to the weight. These can be used to calculate the Body Mass Index (BMI) with a formula (weight / square of height) and the figures are usually interpreted in the light of the age and sex of the child. The WHO recommends that the measurements gotten be plotted on growth charts in the Boy’s Growth Record or the Girl’s Growth Record so that trends can be observed over time and any growth problems identified. These charts are already pre-produced by the WHO, and a child’s growth measurements are plotted on it like a graph and then interpreted.
The measured weight is recorded as: Weight-for-age, Weight-for-length/height, and BMI-for-age. A child is classified as stunted, severely stunted, underweight, severely underweight, wasted, severely wasted, possible risk of overweight, overweight, and obese depending on the result of the comparison of their growth compared to the average growth measurement of other children of similar age and environment which has already been plotted by the WHO in the charts and are represented by curved lines (percentiles) in the graph. These are commonly for children aged between 0 to 5 years.
The CDC also use clinical growth charts to interpret children’s weight. Growth charts are not intended to be used as a sole diagnostic instrument. Instead, growth charts are tools that contribute to forming an overall impression for the child being measured. In infants from birth to 36 months, the Length-for-age, Weight-for-age, Head circumference-for-age and Weight-for-length are used to assess growth while Weight-for-stature is used in 2-year-old preschoolers. Children and adolescents aged 2 to 20 years are better assessed with Stature-for-age, Weight-for-age, and BMI-for-age for the different sexes.
How is BMI interpreted for teens?
After the BMI is calculated, it is plotted on the CDC growth chart for the child’s age and gender and the height is also plotted. The extremes of normal are the 5th percentile (lowest) and the 95th percentile (highest). It is classified as:
Underweight: BMI below the 5th percentile age, gender, and height.
Healthy weight: BMI is equal to or greater than the 5th percentile and less than the 85th percentile for age, gender, and height.
Overweight: BMI at or above the 85th percentile but less than the 95th percentile for age, gender, and height.
Obese: BMI at or above the 95th percentile for age, gender, and height.
What does an 11-year-old weigh?
The normal weight of an 11-year-old would depend on the sex of the child. The weight is expressed better in a range between the lowest possible normal weight and the highest possible normal weight for the sex of the child. According to the information extracted from the CDC growth chart by the family practice notebook, a normal boy at 11 years should weigh between 62-112 pounds (28 – 51 Kg), with an average of 77 pounds (35Kg), while a normal 11 year old girl should weigh between 58-113 pounds ( 26- 51Kg), and an average of 79 pounds (36Kg). Any weight more or less than this may indicate underweight or overweight.
What weight problems will an 11-year-old have?
Statistics show that nearly one out of five (19.3%) of U.S. young people, ages 2 to 19 are obese. Those extra pounds put children at risk for developing serious health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, and asthma. Childhood obesity also takes an emotional toll. Overweight children often have trouble keeping up with other kids and joining in sports and activities. Other kids may tease and exclude them, leading to low self-esteem, negative body image, and even depression.
On the other hand, most kids who weigh less than others their age are probably fine. They may go through puberty on a different schedule than some of their peers, and their bodies may grow and change at a different rate. Most underweight teens catch up in weight as they finish puberty during their later teen years, and there is rarely a need to try to gain weight. However, an underweight child with other symptoms like fatigue, continuing weight loss, eating disorder or any concurrent illness should be evaluated by a pediatrician.
If your 11-year-old weighs much more of less than the above range, you may express your concern to your pediatrician at your next doctor’s appointment, who would evaluate the child and prescribe a healthy eating and exercise plan for an optimal weight.