Concerned About My 4 Year Old Daughter's High Bmi/weight

Updated on May 30, 2010
P.R. asks from Akron, OH
14 answers

As way of background, my husband is 6'5" and his family is a bit heavy-boned. I am 5'9" and my family can eat whatever they want without gaining weight. Unusually good metabolisms. So we assumed our children would be tall but their weights have suprised me. My oldest daughter is 5.75yrs and very solid but at least inline with averages for her height. 90% percentile height and 88% percentile weight. I never worried about my youngest daughter as much because we've witnessed our older daughter kind of grow into her weight. But she started doing it by age 4 while my youngest at 4.25yrs still has a lot of baby fat. I weighed and measured her last night and she technically has too high a BMI or well above average weight for her height. The website said her ideal weight would be 4.5lbs lighter than what she is. For the most part we are healthy eaters. No fast food though the girls do get a small treat after dinner. On average say one cookie a night. I'm hoping she's due for a growth spurt (her height is tracking only 80% percentile which is short for our family) but I'm getting concerned now that she's 4.25yrs that she still has so much baby fat. Has anyone ever had this same concern only to see their daughter shoot up and become more evenly balanced or did anyone have the other outcome - a weight issue at 4 that never went away despite good eating habits? Probably worth mentioning is she's not a hyper child at all. Loves to sit and draw etc. But she also has regular physical activities.

Want to add based on the responses I'm getting. We all weighed and measured ourselves and made it fun about how big and tall they're getting. Definitely not trying to make her feel bad or anything. She was upset she doesn't weigh as much as her older sister. Of course didn't tell her she's supposedly overweight for her height... In terms of portions, I only insist she eats vegetables (which she's great about) and some protein at dinner. Never make her eat all the carbs or finish her plate etc. And portions definitely aren't big but I do give her more protein and veggies if she asks for them.

Also, I'm really looking for peole to respond who had a child in a similar situation versus general criticism's of how I'm mothering.


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answers from Hartford on

HI P., My son has always been on the high end of the spectrum for both height and weight. This year alone he started of chunky, then grew a few inches and thinned out. He has always gone through this pattern and eventually catches up and levels out. If she is not eating a lot of processed foods then I wouldn't be too concerned. I try very hard, like you, not to make it an issue and just guide him to healthy choices.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Honestly my first thought as I’m reading your post was “she is weighing a 4 year old?” You really should just take her to her pediatrician and have him give you his advice/opinion. Weighing your 4 year old and stressing about her weight can possibly give her self-esteem issues with her body image later. You really don’t want her having issues with food or her weight. Being that she is only 4.5 lbs over as you said per an internet search, I seriously cannot believe you’re that concerned. Again, just take her to the Dr. Maybe he can set your mind at ease. Good luck with your beautiful daughter!
UPDATE: I read your update on your question and I'm sorry I made an assumption about you weighing your daughter! That was wrong of me and I'm sorry! That you make it fun makes a huge difference. I did have a similar experience with my daughter when she was about that age and my family would comment about her "chubbiness" in front of her. It really hurt her self-esteem. I knew we had to fix it so we changed her diet completely and by the time she was 7 she started to thin out. That and the fact that she went through a growth spurt. Changing her diet and getting her involved in sports made a huge difference. Now she is really lean, athletic and super healthy. Sounds like you are very involved with your daughter and with your help she will be fine!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

i honestly would not worry about it. if she is not eating a lot of junk food and has physical activity then I'm sure she will be fine. I would caution you against weighing her or making a "big deal" about her weight. I know my mother did this to us girls growing up and it has caused SERIOUS issues with each of us with obsessing about the scale. I'm sure she recently went in for her 4 year check up and if her doctor is not concerned about it then I wouldn't be either! So don't stress over it or worry about it or your daughter will pick up on it! Kids grow at their own pace :-) Plus I've always been told that the BMI is bunk! It's really not a good tool. I know for me it says I should weigh around 110 to 120lbs and I know if I weighed that I would look really sickly! My doctor has always said that 140lbs is a good weight for me and to ignore the BMI because it really isn't accurate!

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I would not worry about it right now if she is eating healthy foods, with an occasional snack. She still has a lot of growing to do. My 2 yr old comes in at 97% height and 88% weight, and the "charts" on line say that she is at risk for being obese because she is 2 pounds over the ideal. I would like to know who came up with the ideal for anything. One of my older girls was always a little heavier and I was told that I had to watch her. i never worried. When she was 8 or so, she had a growth spurt and all the pants I had bought because the smaller size was too tight were too big in the waist. Now she is a little heavy again but I am sure by the end of summer she will slim down yet again.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

Dear P.,
I understand your concern. I have a daughter who is now 17 years old and people are still coming up to me and asking what kind of diet did I put on her? My husband is 6'3" and I'm only 5'4" so I was very concerned that she would not grow very tall. But on the other hand, I wasn't too concerned about her staying "husky" as the Gap clothes labeled her that way, since she was eating right. Yes, she ate some fast food but I cooked quite often at home.
Two other girls her age were "husky" like my daughter but they are still that way. I had my daughter stay active in basketball and softball. So did those parents. The difference is, I didn't harp on my daughter to eat right, take food away from her, tease her and the thing I truly believe in, I did NOT put her on a diet. Those other parents have put their daughters on WeightWatchers and even a Jamba Juice diet. I'm not a dietician and I have to admit, I'm overweight but my daughter is not. She's 5'8" and 150 lbs. although she looks like she's about 130. People can't believe she's the same girl and when we haven't seen someone since her middle school days, they walk right past her.
So please, don't put her child on a diet. Just keep her active like she already is. Society, mainly TV, puts too much emphasis on being skinny! Don't cave into it. I kept a positive attitude and she even jokes now about how "husky" she used to be, in a good way. ;)
I hope this helps!

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answers from San Antonio on

My kids have the opposite issue, being very tall and off the charts underweight. I stopped worrying about what they look like b/c they are thriving. If she eats healthy and spends lot of time in active play, I'd assume she's FINE. Her body knows what it is doing, and if you're following her lead about when she's full then she's probably just growing into her DNA mandated size for now. It could change, or she might be one of those genetically rarish children who is just a little heavier than others. But soon, most kids will be fatter than her anyway due to the fast foods they consume.

Based on what you've written, I would not worry. My mom, btw, is a dietitian, and she's sitting here agreeing with me. I would call your daughter Perfect. :)

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answers from Fresno on

Based on what you said about your familys height I would guess she is due for a growth spirt and that should even out her height and weight. My daughter seems to get a bit heavier before a growth spirt, but not a lot heavier. Kids who are heavy as children are often heavy as adults so you may want to cut back on the sugar and increase excerise, with out telling her what you are doing. and decrease the amount she is eating. Children need to learn about healthy eating, not eating too much and regular excerise. It is great that you are addressing this now before it becomes an issue for her.

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answers from Sacramento on

I'm a bit over weight and have had concerns for my daughter. But here is what I have found with her. She will start to "chunk up" a bit and then she will have a huge growth spurt and stretch out. She does this every time. So I stopped worrying about it. 4lbs one way or another is nothing on anyone, child or adult. I wouldn't be concerned unless she started to get extreamly overweight, but it sounds like she eats healthy enough that you won't really have to worry about that. Unless your pediatrician mentions something, you should just put it out of your mind :).

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answers from New York on

My cousins daughter at 4 was just like this. She was 7lbs over her ideal weight. She ate well and my cousin did not give her huge portions, she was active etc. Also to add that on her hubs side the family was stockier then our side. Doc told her just to be concientious as her hubs side did have weight issues. But since she was healthy and active my cousin just kept an eye on her and at 5 maybe 51/2 she had a growth spurt and she "leaned" out. She is 8 now and a tall, average weight kid. I would not worry unless she was eating badly which she obviously isn't. Also the summer is upon us and she will even more active, don't frett she is fine.

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answers from Sacramento on

I wouldn't worry too much at this age, but I would talk to your Pediatrician about your concern to see if he/she feels is warranted. You didnt mention if your child snacks a lot; if so is she eating healthy snacks? Also is she getting plenty of exercise? Another thought, what does she do for play?Kids today tend to watch too much TV and play a lot of video/computer games instead of being outdoors. Does your family as a whole exercise daily, kids love going on walks with family, being outdoors at the park (bring balls so your kids can run, chase and kick them), riding a bike with training wheels etc. I started my child in a sport at this age,soccer and it was a great source of exercise, fun and something the whole family can enjoy by watching her games . Just a few ideas, hope this helps.



answers from Sacramento on

4.5lbs is a lot to be over weight when you are little... four year olds only weight around 40lbs, so we're talking about like 10% of her body weigh... think about an adult woman carrying around an extra 14 or 15lbs.

Since she eats a healthy balanced diet, maybe her portions are two big for her age and activity level. I would imagine it's easy to inadvertently over feed the younger child by simply giving her a portion size like everyone else in the family.

Talk to her doctor about this and see what (s)he says. Could be she'll outgrow it, but being overweight can be a health challenge at any age.




answers from San Francisco on

Hi P.,

I have two perspectives.
1. My father is very overweight and my mother never commented on how we children were. Her extreme was not to mention it at all if she was concerned. Now I have several sisters that are pretty overweight and I am slightly overweight. It is hard now to control it. However, although I am concerned I am not consumed.
2. My sister-in-law was constantly told what to eat, how to cut her hair, what not to eat, reminded about her weight and her mother always told her when she was gaining. She suffers with self-esteem all the time. She is consumed with keeping her weight down. She has her very healthy, very thin, very strong daughter counting calories and tracking salt, sugar, fat and carb intake.

There needs to be a happy medium. I think that if you make exercising and eating right a family activity and important to everyone, then your daughters will follow the example and maintain a happy and healthy lifestyle.

Also, remember that the high metabolism doesn't always last. So, keeping everyone moving and eating right will benefit all of you.




answers from Seattle on

I SO firmly believe that we all have different body types, muscle mass, and proportions. My five year old is considered heavy but is also very tall and doesn't have a "thin" frame. She is built like my husband and I, tall, lots of muscle, athletic. If she's not unhealthy I wouldn't worry about it!



answers from San Francisco on

I am a normal weight woman, though as I age (48) I'm gaining weight. My daughter started gaining weight when she started school. She is inactive and it's really who she is. She reads alot and just doesn't move. (We encourage her constantly) Her sister moves alot and so do I. I guess I just want to say that every child is different and while there's some inherited tendencies and home habits that shape weight gain, some causes are the natural personality of the child. Do you ever see the enormously overweight family with the rail thin kids? Is it something the parent is doing? Probably not. Maybe the child is more active or doesn't care about eating. There are so many elements that dictate weight. Your doctor will tell you if your child has a problem.

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