Louise A Baur and Elizabeth Denney-Wilson
Childhood obesity is one of the most serious public health problems facing the developed and, increasingly, the developing world. 1,2 The obesity epidemic is not simply a result of energy imbalance, but rather a consequence of the complex interactions among biological, economic, and social factors. The prevalence of obesity is increasing in children of all ages. Obese children suffer from a host of co-morbidities, some of which are immediately apparent, while others act as warning signs of future disease. Although primary prevention is the most effective strategy in curbing the epidemic, treatment of those children who are currently obese is needed to improve both their immediate and long-term health outcomes.
Ideally, the definition of overweight and obesity in children should be accurate, easy to perform and equate to health risk. Body mass index (BMI), calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in metres squared, is a simple, low-cost measure of body fatness in both adults and children. 3 In adults, the BMI cut-points of 25 kg/m2 and 30 kg/m2 are