Comparing US paediatric and adult weight classification at the transition from late teenage to young adulthood

B. Maring, L. C. Greenspan, M. Chandra, S. R. Daniels, A. Sinaiko, R. J. Prineas, E. D. Parker, K. F. Adams, M. F. Daley, N. E. Sherwood, E. O. Kharbanda, K. L. Margolis, D. J. Magid, P. J. O'Connor, J. C. Lo

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6 Scopus citations


Background Although paediatric growth charts are recommended for weight assessment prior to age 20, many teenagers transition earlier to adult care where absolute body mass index (BMI) is used. This study examines concordance of weight classification in older teenagers using paediatric percentiles and adult thresholds. Methods BMI from 23 640 US teens ages 18-19 years were classified using paediatric BMI percentile criteria for underweight (< 5th), normal (5th to < 85th), overweight (85th to < 95th), obesity (≥ 95th) and severe obesity (≥ 120% × 95th percentile) and adult BMI (kg m-2) criteria for underweight (< 18.5), normal (18.5-24.9), overweight (25-29.9) and obesity: class I (30-34.9), class II (35-39.9) and class III (≥ 40). Concordance was examined using the kappa (κ) statistic. Blood pressure (BP) from the same visit was classified hypertensive for BP ≥ 140/90. Results The majority of visits (72.8%) occurred in adult primary care. Using paediatric/adult criteria, 3.4%/5.2% were underweight, 66.6%/58.8% normal weight, 15.7%/21.7% overweight, 14.3%/14.3% obese and 4.9%/6.0% severely/class II-III obese, respectively. Paediatric and adult classification for underweight, normal, overweight and obesity were concordant for 90.3% (weighted κ 0.87 [95% confidence interval, 0.87-0.88]). For severe obesity, BMI ≥ 120% × 95th percentile showed high agreement with BMI ≥ 35 kg m-2 (κ 0.89 [0.88-0.91]). Normal-weight males and moderately obese females by paediatric BMI percentile criteria who were discordantly classified into higher adult weight strata had a greater proportion with hypertensive BP compared with concordantly classified counterparts. Conclusions Strong agreement exists between US paediatric BMI percentile and adult BMI classification for older teenagers. Adult BMI classification may optimize BMI tracking and risk stratification during transition from paediatric to adult care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-379
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Obesity
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 World Obesity.


  • Adolescence
  • body mass index
  • obesity
  • young adult


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