Pediatric obesity: the complexities of current definitions and measurement tools in children age 5 to 19 years
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In the United States, childhood and adolescent obesity is a problem of growing concern. With nearly 17% of children between the ages of two and 19 years classified as obese, healthcare providers, clinical scientists, and program managers must collaborate to reduce the prevalence of obesity. Obese children are more likely to be obese adults, who are at an increased risk to develop type two diabetes and cardiovascular disease, compared to non-obese individuals. Children are classified as obese based on body composition. CDC, WHO, and IOTF have developed definitions to classify the weight status of children; however, these definitions are based on reference populations' data rather than physiological ideal growth and development. Physicians and scientists measure body composition with a variety of direct and indirect techniques. Although there are advantages and disadvantages to each method, there is no database to compare the measurements to determine whether the child has an increased risk for developing a disease based on his or her weight status. While the current literature debates the use of one definition or measurement tool over another, there is a need for longitudinal studies to establish a true definition for obesity and healthy model of child growth and development from birth to adulthood. This review summaries the current arguments and provides suggestions for further research to increase the understanding of obesity in children and adolescents.