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Logo of archdischArchives of Disease in ChildhoodVisit this articleSubmit a manuscriptReceive email alertsContact usBMJ
Arch Dis Child. 1995 July; 73(1): 25–29.
PMCID: PMC1511150

Body mass index reference curves for the UK, 1990.


Reference curves for stature and weight in British children have been available for the past 30 years, and have recently been updated. However weight by itself is a poor indicator of fatness or obesity, and there has never been a corresponding set of reference curves to assess weight for height. Body mass index (BMI) or weight/height has been popular for assessing obesity in adults for many years, but its use in children has developed only recently. Here centile curves for BMI in British children are presented, from birth to 23 years, based on the same large representative sample as used to update the stature and weight references. The charts were derived using Cole's LMS method, which adjusts the BMI distribution for skewness and allows BMI in individual subjects to be expressed as an exact centile or SD score. Use of the charts in clinical practice is aided by the provision of nine centiles, where the two extremes identify the fattest and thinnest four per 1000 of the population.

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