UCLA Study: Obese Children Face Broad Risks to Health

Compared to kids who are not overweight, obese children are at nearly twice the risk of having three or more reported medical, mental or developmental conditions, the UCLA researchers found. Overweight children had a 1.3 times higher risk.

Specifically, obese children were more likely to report a greater tendency toward emotional and behavioral problems, higher rates of grade repetition, missed school days and other school problems, ADHD, conduct disorder, depression, learning disabilities, developmental delays, asthma, allergies, headaches, ear infections, bone, joint and muscle problems.

The UCLA research, a large population-based study of children in the United States, provides the first comprehensive national profile of associations between weight status and a broad set of associated health conditions.

"This study paints a comprehensive picture of childhood obesity, and we were surprised to see just how many conditions were associated with childhood obesity," said lead author Neal Halfon, MD, MPH, professor in the departments of pediatrics, health sciences and policy studies and leader of the CTSI Maternal, Adolescent and Child Health Committee. "The findings should serve as a wake-up call to physicians, parents and teachers, who should be better informed of the risk for other health conditions associated with childhood obesity so that they can target interventions that can result in better health outcomes."

The study, which is currently available online, will be published in the January/February print issue of Academic Pediatrics.

Further reading
UCLA press release: Childhood obesity linked to more immediate health problems than previously thought

Academic Pediatrics: Associations Between Obesity and Comorbid Mental Health, Developmental, and Physical Health Conditions in a Nationally Representative Sample of US Children Aged 10 to 17

UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families and Communities: www.healthychild.ucla.edu