For people at a young age as well as people at an older age, a healthy weight is essential to prevent other health issues. Overweight and obesity (severe overweight) increase the chance of diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, musculoskeletal diseases, or psychological complaints. Underweight also poses health risks, such as a higher chance of physical and mental problems.
Overweight in children can already pose risks
Overweight twelve-year-olds already have a higher blood pressure and unfavourable cholesterol levels than children with a normal weight (RIVM, 2012). In 2009, 14% of Dutch children and youngsters aged 2 to 21 were overweight, of which 2% were obese (Fifth National Growth Study – Vijfde Landelijke Groeistudie – by TNO, the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research, 2009). People who develop overweight at a young age, have a high chance of being overweight at a later age.
Overweight depends on the length-weight ratio
Whether somebody is overweight or obese is determined on the basis of the Body Mass Index (BMI). This is a measure for the ratio between a person’s weight and length. The BMI will be higher if a person with a similar length weighs more. The BMI values for overweight and obesity in children and youngsters gradually increase as age increases, with the values at the age of 18 being equal to those of adults. Among children, the BMI values differ between boys and girls. Weight and length of children and youngsters are measured during regular contacts with the Youth Health Care Department (Jeugdgezondheidszorg). Adults and elderly people provide information on their length and weight by means of surveys.
Read more about this subject by clicking on the categories 'Children', 'Youngsters' and 'Adults'.