ABSTRACT Objective: To identify a low-cost abdominal adiposity index that has a higher accuracy in predicting excess weight in children aged four to seven years old. Methods: A cross-sectional study with a sample of 257 children aged 4 to 7 years old. Indicators of abdominal adiposity assessed were: waist circumference (WC), waist-to-height ratio (WHR) and central fat percentage (measured by dual energy X-ray absorptiometry - DEXA). Overweight children were classified using body mass index by age (BMI/age). In the analysis, the prevalence ratio (PR) using Poisson regression with a robust variance was estimated, and a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was built, with a statistical significance of p<0.05. Results: The prevalence of overweight children was 24.9% and a higher median of all abdominal adiposity indicators was observed in the overweight group. Children with increased values of WC (PR=4.1; 95%CI 2.86-5.86), WHR (PR=5.76; 95%CI 4.14-8.02) and a central fat percentage (PR=2.48; 95%CI 1.65-3.73) had a higher prevalence of being overweight. Using the ROC curve analysis, the WHR index showed a higher area under the curve, when compared to the WC and to the central fat percentage estimated by DEXA for predicting the classification of being overweight. Conclusions: Given the results, WHR is suggested for the screening of overweight children.