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The Informed Parent

Childhood Obesity Trends

by Shanna R. Cox, M.D., F.A.A.P.
Published on Nov. 09, 2009

Pediatricians and parents alike have been bombarded by the problem of childhood obesity increasingly over the last decade. As part of routine physicals healthy food choices and recommendations of moderate exercise always apply—even for our infants! In reading one of our common pediatric news magazines this week I came upon some more unsettling information that underlies the scope and severity of this problem. I thought every parent would appreciate knowing this information.

The Journal of Infectious Diseases in Children quotes a Health Affairs study that notes a doubling in both the number of hospital admissions and the cost of hospital admissions associated with a diagnosis of childhood obesity. These numbers are quoted for pediatric patients in the two to nineteen-year-old age group.

These children that were defined as obese by a high body mass index were noted to have longer lengths of stay in the hospital when compared to children with similar diagnoses that were of an average weight. This is often referred to as an increased risk or morbidity rate, meaning the same illness makes an obese child have more difficulty handling an illness than a non-obese child.

This may be due to an obese child having more complications from a surgery, or having other illnesses that are frequently co-morbid with obesity such as high blood pressure or insulin resistance. This study looked at several common pediatric hospital diagnoses including: asthma, appendicitis, pneumonia, and complicated skin infections. Of note, adolescents create a large proportion of the number of children studied.

This is not necessarily new information.

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