The Indian Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 85, Issue 6, pp 463–471 | Cite as

Obesity in Children: Definition, Etiology and Approach

  • Bhawana Aggarwal
  • Vandana Jain
Review Article


Childhood obesity is an important public health issue worldwide. Urbanization, sedentary lifestyle and change in food habits are the chief reasons behind this pandemic. In a small proportion of children, obesity is the result of endocrine, syndromic or monogenic causes. The present paper summarizes the methods, definitions and cut-offs for identification of obesity in children. We have briefly reviewed the various techniques used for estimation of body fat in children and the cut-offs for defining obesity based on body fat percentage, and the reference curves based on body mass index and waist circumference. The etiology of obesity in children, including individual behaviors, macro- and micro-environmental influences, and endocrine causes have been discussed, and an approach to etiological assessment of obese children has been presented. Special emphasis has been laid on clinical pointers that suggest the presence of syndromic, endocrine or monogenic forms of obesity, such as, short stature, dysmorphism, neurocognitive impairment and early age at onset.


Body mass index Body fat Childhood obesity Endocrine obesity Exogenous obesity Overweight 



BA and VJ conceptualized the paper, searched the literature and drafted the paper. Both authors have seen and approved the final version. VJ will act as guarantor for this paper.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest


Source of Funding



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Copyright information

© Dr. K C Chaudhuri Foundation 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PediatricsAll India Institute of Medical SciencesNew DelhiIndia
  2. 2.Division of Pediatric Endocrinology, Department of PediatricsAll India Institute of Medical SciencesNew DelhiIndia

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