Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Over 6% of Children Are Extremely Obese

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Over 6% of Children Are Extremely Obese

Article excerpt

Extreme obesity is on the rise in children and adolescents, and certain ethnic/racial minorities face a higher risk than do others.

In a study of more than 710,000 participants, more than 6% of subjects aged 2-19 years met the criteria for extreme obesity, with the highest rates seen in Hispanic boys aged 6-11 years and 12-19 years (11%), and black girls aged 12-19 years (12%).

"Extreme obesity was observed early in life," wrote Corinna Koebnick, Ph.D., of Kaiser Permanente Southern California, Pasadena, and her colleagues (J. Pediatr. 2010 March 18 [doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds. 2010.01.025]).

"Analogous to the concept of 'pack-years' for smoking patients, extremely obese children may suffer cumulative effects of their 'pound-years,' " the authors suggested.

In a written statement, Dr. Koebnick said that "without major lifestyle changes, these kids face a 10-to 20-year shorter life span and will develop health problems in their twenties that we typically see in 40-to 60-year-olds."

The cross-sectional study included 710,949 patients aged 2-19 years who were enrolled in an integrated, prepaid health plan in 2007 and 2008. All of the patients had at least one medical office visit during the 2-year study period, and the average number of medical encounters was 2.6 per child per year. Data for body weight and height measurements, which were routinely recorded during such visits, were extracted from a total of 1,849,256 inpatient and outpatient visits.

Weight differences and distribution was assessed across sex-and race/ethnicity--specific categories. Race and ethnicity information was obtained from administrative records and birth certificates, with incomplete information supplemented by data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Overweight was defined according to Centers for Disease Control growth charts as a body mass index of 25 kg/[m.sup.2] or higher, or a BMI-for-age equal to or greater than the 85th percentile. Obesity was defined as a BMI of 30 kg/[m.sup.2] or higher, or a BMI-for-age equal to or greater than the 95th percentile. Extreme obesity was defined as a BMI-for-age greater or equal to 1.2 times the 95th percentile, or a BMI of 35 kg/[m.sup.2] or higher.

There was an overall prevalence of overweight, obesity, and extreme obesity in 37. …

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