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JAMA Patient Page
August 25, 2015

Childhood Obesity

JAMA. 2015;314(8):850. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.6674

In 2012, about one-third of children in the United States were overweight, and more than half of those children were obese.

In most cases, obesity is the result of an energy imbalance. Energy is measured as calories. Food provides the calories the body uses during normal functioning, everyday activities, and exercise. When a person consumes more calories than that person’s body uses, those extra calories are stored as fat.

Some health conditions can cause weight gain. These problems are uncommon and account for less than 1% of cases of childhood obesity. Certain medications, such as steroids and antidepressants, can also cause weight gain.