Body mass index is defined as the individual's body weight divided by the square of their height. The formulas universally used in medicine produce a unit of measure of kg/m2.
BMI is used differently for children. It is calculated the same way as for adults, but then compared to typical values for other children of the same age. Instead of set thresholds for underweight and overweight, then, the BMI percentile allows comparison with children of the same gender and age.
A BMI that is less than the 5th percentile is considered underweight and above the 95th percentile is considered overweight. Children with a BMI between the 85th and 95th percentile are considered to be at risk of becoming overweight.
Recent studies in England have indicated that females between the ages 12 and 16 have a higher BMI than males by 1.0 kg/m2 on average.