2016 Volume 23 Issue 1 Pages 32-38
To prevent obesity in middle age, early precautions and interventions are required during childhood. Therefore, it is very important to accurately evaluate the degree of overweight in children. Body mass index (BMI) is widely used worldwide in adults, but not in children. Because standard BMI, which is calculated using the average height and weight for age, changes widely during growth, a constant cut-off point cannot be set for children. An international unified method defining childhood obesity has not been established. In many countries, BMI-for-age percentile (BMI%) value or Z (standard deviation) score is used, whereas in Japan, the percentage of overweight (POW), which is the modified weight-for-height method, is used. We compared BMI% values with POW values obtained using the anthropometric data of elementary and junior high school students based on the Japanese school survey conducted in 2000 and found that the values for the degree of overweight were significantly different between the two methods. It became clear that tall students were easily defined as being overweight, whereas short students tended to be evaluated as being underweight when using BMI%. POW method seemed to be more appropriate than BMI% for school-age children. Abdominal obesity, excess visceral adipose tissue (VAT), is highly associated with obesity-related complications. Waist circumference (WC) is now accepted as an appropriate guide to VAT accumulation. The cut-off value of WC defining excess VAT is 80 cm at the umbilical level in Japanese school-age children. It is not easy to decide the obesity criteria and optimum WC in school-age children. Childhood obesity should be discussed more internationally.