WASHINGTON — Public health officials in the United States this Thursday published new graphic tables for evaluating severe obesity in children and adolescents, a condition that disproportionately affects Hispanics.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has established a new body mass index (BMI) “expanded growth chart” that will allow clinicians to more accurately track growth and help families visualize this childhood condition.
“I encourage health care providers to use the expanded growth chart as a tool in child and adolescent care,” said Karen Hacker, director of the Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
“Early intervention is critical to improving the health of our children as they grow into adults,” he said.
The CDC estimates that there are approximately 14.7 million obese children and adolescents in the United States and that the condition is more common in certain population groups.
The prevalence of obesity among Hispanic children is 26.2%, compared to 24.8% for African-Americans, 16.6% for non-Hispanic whites, and 9% for Asian Americans.
Hacker explained that until now the graphic charts used to assess obesity “were not accurate enough to look at body mass index (BMI) for the growing number of severely obese children.”
“New growth charts combined with high-quality treatments may help optimize the care of children with severe obesity,” he added.
One of the effects of confinement due to the COVID-19 pandemic is the alarming increase in childhood obesity.
These will improve care for children aged 2 to 19 years.
Hacker said that severe obesity is defined as having a BMI greater than 120% of the 95th percentile on the BMI chart for age.
The current growth chart for children and adolescents without obesity will not change, the official said.
Obesity-related conditions include high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, type 2 diabetes, respiratory problems such as asthma and apnea, and joint problems.