Intended for healthcare professionals


Childhood obesity: time for action, not complacency

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 05 February 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:328

Definitions are unclear, but effective interventions exist

  1. Gema Frühbeck, clinical scientist (
  1. Department of Endocrinology, Clinica Universitaria de Navarra, University of Navarra, 31008 Pamplona, Spain

    The lack of agreement between different studies over the classification of obesity in children and adolescents makes it impossible to give an overview of the global prevalence of obesity for these age groups. Nevertheless, whatever method is used to classify obesity, studies consistently report a high prevalence of obesity and rates are on the increase.1 The national studies of health and growth carried out from 1972 to 1990 on English and Scottish children showed a roughly twofold increase in weight for height in all age groups and both sexes.2 Similar trends have been observed in Europe and the United States.3 Paediatricians face problems of overweight in around one in four of their patients. Interestingly, childhood obesity is not only confined to industrialised countries.1 Therefore a rational clinical approach needs to be applied to preventing and treating this disorder.

    The most successful weight reduction programmes are those that combine diet and exercise within a framework of behaviour modification.4-5 Limited information is available about the use of aggressive treatment such as drugs …

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