Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

2013 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Gellman, J. Rick Turner

Obesity in Children

  • Elizabeth R. Pulgaron
  • Alan M. Delamater
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-1005-9_766



Obesity in children is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile compared to peers of the same age and gender.


BMI is calculated from height and weight and plotted on a growth chart according to the child’s age and gender. Obesity occurs when over time more calories are consumed than expended. Many factors affect obesity including poor eating habits, lack of exercise, family history, and psychosocial problems. Very few cases of obesity can be attributed to a specific disease.

Recent estimates indicate that nearly 10% of infants and toddlers and 12% of children and adolescents aged 2 through 19 years meet criteria for obesity in the United States (Ogden, Carroll, Curtin, Lamb, & Flegal, 2010). Correlates of childhood obesity include genetics, environment, metabolism, behavior, culture, and SES. Children from ethnic minority backgrounds and lower socioeconomic status are at an increased risk of being...

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References and Readings

  1. Freedman, D. S., Khan, L. K., Serdula, M. K., Dietz, W. H., Srinivasan, S. R., & Berenson, G. S. (2005). The relation of childhood BMI to adult adiposity: The Bogalusa heart study. Pediatrics, 115, 22–27.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Ogden, C. L., Carroll, M. D., Curtin, L. R., Lamb, M. M., & Flegal, K. M. (2010). Prevalence of high body mass index in US children and adolescents, 2007–2008. Journal of the American Medical Association, 303(3), 242–249.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Whitaker, R., Wright, J., Pepe, M., Seidel, K., & Dietz, W. (1997). Predicting obesity in young adulthood from childhood and parental obesity. The New England Journal of Medicine, 337, 869–873.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PediatricsUniversity of MiamiMiamiUSA
  2. 2.Department of PediatricsUniversity of Miami Miller School of MedicineMiamiUSA