US preventive services task force recommendations on obesity in children and adolescents: can evidence translate to impact?
Despite recent plateauing of the prevalence of childhood obesity, nearly 1 in 3 children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or have obesity (1), defined as having a body mass index (BMI) equal or greater than the 85th percentile for age and sex based on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention growth charts. Overweight and obesity—particularly severe obesity (BMI ≥120% of the 95th percentile)—also tended to be more prevalent among certain race-ethnic minorities and lower income communities (2). Obesity during childhood not only predisposes children to obesity and severe obesity as adults, it is also associated with concurrent health issues such as asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, and cardiovascular and metabolic disorders (including high blood pressure, abnormal lipid levels, and insulin resistance). Many children and adolescents with obesity also experience bullying behaviors and negative psychosocial problems (3). While environmental and policy approaches are imperative in providing the conditions where people can easily make healthy choices (4), screening and treating obesity should be part of a comprehensive strategy.