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Severe Childhood Obesity Still on the Rise in the United States

Treatment for these 4.5 million children is urgently needed

TUESDAY, April 26, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Examining national data from 1999 through 2014, researchers found that one-third of American children aged 2 to 19 were overweight, nearly one-quarter were obese, and more than 2 percent were severely obese. The report was published online April 25 in Obesity.

Using data from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey from 1999 through 2014, Asheley Skinner, Ph.D., of the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, N.C., and colleagues found that 33.4 percent of American children were overweight, defined as body mass index above the 85th percentile for age.

In 2013 to 2014, 23.7 percent were obese (above the 95th percentile) and 2.4 percent were severely obese (more than 140 percent of the 95th percentile). This was up from 2.1 percent in 2011-2012, the investigators found. Black and Hispanic children have the highest prevalence of severe obesity.

“Despite other recent reports, all categories of obesity have increased from 1999 to 2014, and there is no evidence of a decline in the last few years,” Skinner told HealthDay. Treatment for the 4.5 million severely obese children is urgently needed, she added, noting their heightened risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer compared with children with milder forms of obesity.

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