Obesity in Children


What is obesity? Obesity occurs when a child weighs more than is healthy for his or her age, height, and gender. It happens over time if your child eats more calories than he burns. Obesity is diagnosed with a physical exam and measurement of body mass index (BMI). Caregivers use your child's height and weight to measure the BMI. A child is obese when the BMI is 95 percent or higher than it should be for his or her age and gender.

What are the risks of obesity? Obesity can cause many health problems. Your child's caregiver may order tests to check for some of these problems. Some will develop in childhood. Others may occur when your child is an adult. These are some of the problems obesity may cause:

How is obesity treated? Treatment is based on your child's age, how severe his obesity is, and if he has other health problems. Your caregiver may suggest that your growing child maintain his body weight. As he continues to grow, his BMI will decrease. Even a small decrease in BMI can reduce the risk of many health problems.

What eating changes can our family make?

What activity changes can our family make?

What are other things I can do to help my child? Think of yourself as a role model for your child and do the following:

When should I contact my child's caregiver?

When should I seek immediate care or call 911?


You have the right to help plan your child's care. Learn about your child's health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your child's caregivers to decide what care you want for your child. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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