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May 1987


Author Affiliations

Department of Pediatrics University of South Florida Medical Center Box 15 12901 N 30th St Tampa, FL 33612-4799

Am J Dis Child. 1987;141(5):485-486. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1987.04460050027023

Data from national surveys in the United States indicate an increase skin-fold thickness of children over an 18-year period from 1963 through

See also pp 535.

1980. Using the 85th and 95th percentiles as evidence of "obesity" and "superobesity," Gortmaker et al1 warn that increases in the numbers of children at these percentiles may presage increases in "a variety of associated disorders," including hypertension, Blount's disease, slipped capital femoral epiphysis, and adult hyperinsulinemic diabetes.

One might accept these conclusions and bemoan the increasing softness of the nation's children. Alternatively, one could question the sampling methods or the changes in methods of the four consecutive surveys cited, or one could accept the data and attempt to develop a cohesive perspective.

First of all, the 85th and 95th percentiles are derived from a so-called normal population. The authors choose to use the pejorative terms obese and superobese for these normal children. Such