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August 7, 2018

Preventing Obesity in Children: A Glimmer of Hope

Author Affiliations
  • 1Deputy Editor, JAMA
  • 2Editor in Chief, JAMA
JAMA. 2018;320(5):443-444. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.9442

The intractable and relentless epidemic of child and adolescent obesity has been well documented. Beginning about 30 years ago, the weight of children and adolescents began to increase, although the prevalence of obesity has been relatively stable between 2007 and 2016. Nevertheless, the prevalence of obesity and severe obesity was high in 2015-2016: among children 2 to 5 years old, 14% were obese and 2% severely obese; among children 6 to 11 years old, 18% were obese and 5% severely obese; and among adolescents 12 to 19 years old, 21% were obese and 8% severely obese.1 In addition, recent data suggest childhood obesity is associated with a long-term increase in cardiovascular disease, threatening both individual and population health.2 It is likely that obesity in adults is associated with an increase in the number of hip and knee replacements being done at younger ages.3,4 Obesity has also been associated with numerous cancers.5 The effect of obesity is physiological, biological, and mechanical and it exacts an enormous financial toll on individuals and the health care system.