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Childhood Obesity Vs Malnutrition- A Spotlight On WHO Obesity Measurement For Kids

In an attempt to assess and ensure health of children worldwide, a battery of standardized measurement tests to monitor children's growth//, motor development and nutritional status has been recommended by the World Health Organization.

It is hoped that this WHO initiative would enable health care workers to take appropriate measures to equalize both ends of the child health spectrum. At one end, there is desperate need to improve the health of malnourished children in the underdeveloped and developing countries. In the developed countries such as the United States, the concern is about over nourished children and the ever-increasing rates of childhood obesity that has reached alarming proportions.

The new WHO guidelines recommend BMI measurement for children from birth, up to the age of five years. This WHO announcement has raised mix reactions from doctors worldwide, who doubt the clinical utility of the Body Mass Index (BMI) measurement. The BMI tool is based on determination of the height-weight ratio to find out if an individual is underweight, overweight or obese. Issues have also been raised as to the need for young children to be subjected to BMI assessment.

While BMI provides an adequate representation of the average body fat in a specific population, it ignores factors such as muscle loss or muscle mass, which play a crucial role in determining the weight of an individual. BMI measurement can therefore be misleading says Dr. David Heber of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of California.

However, Dr. Wendy Miller medical director at the Beaumont Weight Control Center in Royal Oak has welcomed the WHO recommendation and further feels that it would encourage parents to closely monitor their child's health. Concerns about BMI can prompt parents to seek a pediatric consultation, to decide on an appropriate action plan. The focus of parents should be on provision of adequate nutrition and promoting
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