Pediatric obesity: Causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment (Review)
Affiliations: Department of Endocrinology, Xuzhou Children's Hospital, Xuzhou, Jiangsu 221002, P.R. China
- Published online on: November 11, 2015 https://doi.org/10.3892/etm.2015.2853
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et al. This is an open access article distributed under the
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Pediatric or childhood obesity is the most prevalent nutritional disorder among children and adolescents worldwide. Approximately 43 million individuals are obese, 21‑24% children and adolescents are overweight, and 16‑18% of individuals have abdominal obesity. The prevalence of obesity is highest among specific ethnic groups. Obesity increases the risk of heart diseases in children and adults. Childhood obesity predisposes the individual to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, liver and kidney diseases and causes reproductive dysfunction in adults. Obesity in children is a major health concern of the developed world. The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey has reported that the prevalence of obesity is on the increase in all the pediatric age groups, in males and females, and in various ethnic and racial groups. Factors, such as eating habits, genetics, environment, metabolism, and lifestyle play an important role in the development of obesity. Over 90% of obesity cases are idiopathic and less than 10% are associated with genetic and hormonal causes. Obesity occurs when the body consumes more calories than it burns, through overeating and underexercising. The symptoms of obesity include breathing disorders, sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, certain types of cancer such as prostate, bowel, breast and uterine, coronary heart disease, diabetes (type 2 in children), depression, liver and gallbladder problems, gastro‑esophageal reflux disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, stroke, and joint diseases such as osteoarthritis, pain in knees and lower back. Environmental, behavioral such as consumption of convenience foods, genetic, and family factors contribute to pediatric obesity. Obesity can be countered through lower calorie consumption, weight loss and diet programs, as well as increased physical activity. A number of endogenous molecules including leptin, hypothalamic melanocortin 4 receptor, and mitochondrial uncoupling proteins, are known to affect body weight. These molecules serve as potential targets for the pharmacological manipulation of obesity. Sibutramine and orlistat are primariliy used for the treatment of adult obesity, which produces modest weight loss, of 3‑8% compared to placebo. For children and obese adolescents, metformin is used in the case of insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia. Octreotide is used for hypothalamic obesity. Bariatric surgery is performed for the treatment of severe childhood obesity. The causes, symptoms, prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity are described in the present review.