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What is childhood obesity?

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Quick Answer

Childhood obesity is a serious medical condition that has immediate and long-term effects on the health of children and adolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It refers to a child whose weight is above the normal figure for his height and age.

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What is childhood obesity?
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Full Answer

To be considered obese, a child's body mass index-for-age, or BMI-for-age, percentile must be greater than 95 percent. A child is overweight if his body mass index-for-age percentile is more than 85 but less than 95 percent, adds the Obesity Action Coalition. The BMI-for-age percentile method calculates the child's weight category based on age and body mass index. The symptoms of childhood obesity are not apparent just by looking at children who carry extra pounds, states Mayo Clinic. The child's doctor can use growth charts to determine if the child's weight poses health problems.

The immediate effects of obesity in children are higher risk factors for developing cardiovascular disease; a greater likelihood of developing prediabetes; and greater risk for getting bone and joint problems, sleep apnea and poor self-esteem, notes the CDC. Long-term health effects include the risk of developing adult health problems and becoming an obese adult and increased risk of cancer, including breast, kidney, lymphoma and thyroid.

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