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Managing Childhood Obesity In The Emergency Department

November 2012

Abstract

Childhood obesity is a chronic medical problem that has become a worldwide epidemic. From 1980 to 2008, the rate of obesity tripled among American children. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 16.9% of children and adolescents 2 to 19 years of age can be classified by body mass index percentile as “obese.” This review identifies the causes of pediatric obesity and addresses the comorbidities of pediatric obesity in the emergency department, including impairments in patients’ physical and emotional quality of life. The United States medical system’s response for screening for childhood obesity and early identification and treatment, including lifestyle counseling, has gained momentum slowly. The need for hospitals to adopt standard body mass index recording practices as a required first step in addressing childhood obesity is emphasized. As emergency clinicians treat more children with obesity, they should be aware of the potential associated medical complications and recognize the opportunity to encourage at-risk patients to adopt healthy eating and exercise habits.

Keywords: obesity, overweight, body mass index, BMI

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