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Although US childhood obesity rates overall have been flat over the past several years, the prevalence of severe obesity has increased. An estimated 4% to 6% of all US youths are severely obese, and there’s evidence that they have a “much more adverse cardiometabolic risk profile” than their overweight and obese counterparts, according to an American Heart Association scientific statement.
The statement defines children older than 2 years as severely obese if they have a body mass index (BMI) that is at least 20% higher than the 95th percentile for their sex and age or a BMI of 35 or higher. Severely obese children have higher rates of type 2 diabetes than children with lower BMIs, and they also demonstrate early signs of vascular dysfunction and subclinical atherosclerosis (Kelly AS et al. Circulation. doi:10.1161/CIR.0b013e3182a5cfb3 [published online September 9, 2013]).
Mitka M. AHA: Severe Obesity in US Youth Is Increasing and Difficult to Treat. JAMA. 2013;310(14):1436. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.280169