Using a percentile chart doctors can track children's growth rate as well as monitor how a child is growing in relation to other children.
Height and weight percentiles are determined by growth charts and body mass index charts to compare a child's measurements with those of other children in the same age group.
Growth percentile charts vary for boys and girls as their growth rates and patterns differ. For either girls or boys there are two sets of percentile charts:
The 50th percentile represents the median, or average, height or weight for each age group, so that 50% of children will be above this point and 50% will be below it.
Children with a low weight to height percentile generally have a weight that is below the 3rd or 5th percentile for their age group - as well as a declining growth velocity (not gaining weight as expected) and/or a shift downward in their growth percentiles, crossing two or more percentiles on their growth charts.
Recent studies have shown that current growth charts for infants under 24 months overstate the expected weight of babies and lead to potentially obese children. This is due to the original charts being produced as far back as 1977, and were based on samples of middle class white American babies on high protein bottle fed diets at the time. In 2006 The World Health Organization altered the target height to weight percentile measurements to better represent healthier weight measurements. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created the growth charts that are most commonly used in the United States.
View an approximate Height to Weight Chart for Adults and a guide to Babies to Teenagers Average Height to Weight Chart.
Remember: There is a wide range of healthy shapes and sizes among children. While growth charts are an important tool for monitoring children's development, they are just one of several tools used to ensure children grow and develop normally as they mature. Genetics, gender, nutrition, physical activity, health problems, environment, and hormones can, and do, influence a child's height to weight ratio.