More severely obese children, many with metabolic syndrome
August 12, 2009
The rate of severe obesity among U.S. children and teenagers more than tripled over the last 25 years, a new study finds. Researchers at Brenner Children’s Hospital analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey on more than 12,000 U.S. children and adolescents ages 2 to 19. For the study, severe childhood obesity was classified as having a body mass index equal to or greater than the 99th percentile for age and gender.
The researchers found that the prevalence of severe obesity tripled from 0.8 percent between 1976 and 1980 to 3.8 percent between 1999 and 2004. Based on the data, the researchers estimated that there are 2.7 million children in the United States who are severely obese. They noted that the increases were most pronounced among African-American and Mexican-American children, as well as among those living below the poverty level.
Examining the health impact of severe obesity, the researchers noted that one-third of children classified as severely obese have metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors associated with increased risk of heart attack, stroke and diabetes.