About 5 percent of U.S. children and teens are “severely obese” — a newly defined class of risk, according to an American Heart Association scientific statement published online in the journal Circulation.
“Severe obesity in young people has grave health consequences,” said Aaron Kelly, Ph.D., lead author of the statement and a researcher at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis. “It’s a much more serious childhood disease than obesity.”
While childhood obesity rates are starting to level off, severe obesity has increased, Kelly said.
Severely obese children have higher rates of Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular issues at younger ages, including high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and early signs of atherosclerosis – the disease process that clogs arteries.
Treatment options for children with this level of obesity are limited, as most standard approaches to weight loss are insufficient for them.
The statement defines children over age 2 as severely obese if they either have a body mass index (BMI) that’s at least 20 percent higher than the 95th percentile for their gender and age, or a BMI score of 35 or higher. A child in the 95th percentile weighs more than 95 percent of other children of the same gender and age.
Stories appearing on blog.heart.org under the "By American Heart Association News" byline are available for linking, quoting, excerpting and reprinting. Copyright is owned or held by the American Heart Association, Inc., and all rights are reserved. Permission is granted, at no cost and without need for further request, to link to, quote, excerpt or reprint from these stories in any medium as long as no text is altered and proper attribution is made to the American Heart Association. Additional conditions may apply to the use of these stories in printed materials.
American Heart Association additional conditions for linking, quoting, excerpting, reprinting stories in print media
- A credit line of American Heart Association News must be prominently placed on the page in which the American Heart Association materials appear.
- The American Heart Association logo and service marks may only be used if they appear on the materials requested.
- Stories reprinted may be edited for length, but no other deletions, alterations or other changes may be made without the prior written consent of the American Heart Association.
- Artwork labeled "American Heart Association" may be reprinted, but other artwork may not. For artwork permission questions, contact email@example.com
- Stories reprinted may not be placed adjacent to any advertisement, photo, graphic or other content that could be considered inappropriate by the American Heart Association. For questions about whether content is inappropriate, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Stories may not be displayed in any way that gives the appearance that the American Heart Association endorses (implied or otherwise) or is affiliated with any product, service or company.