Childhood Obesity

E M E Poskitt, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

© 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

This article discusses obesity in children and adolescents with regard to prevalence, epidemiology, clinical features, and management/prevention. Obesity not associated with a recognized underlying clinical condition is the focus of this article since this represents far the majority of children with obesity. However, obesity associated with congenital or acquired medical conditions is discussed briefly. Management and prevention are also discussed.

Obesity is increasing in prevalence among children in virtually all developed countries. In the United Kingdom, 8.5% (twice the rate of 10years ago) of 6-year-old and 15% (three times the rate of 10 years ago) of 15-year-old children are obese. Childhood obesity is also increasing in prevalence among the affluent in less well-developed countries. Since it has been estimated that in Western countries one-third of obese adults were obese in childhood, and since both adult and adolescent obesity carry significant risk of health complications, obesity in childhood is currently seen as a concern for families, communities, and nations.

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