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Childhood obesity can be measured with various national and international standards and cutoff points resulting in important differences in prevalence estimates. However, across all data there is a rapid increase globally in the numbers of children affected. Although still at a high level, childhood obesity levels seem to have stabilized in some high income countries. However, the prevalence of obesity in children is rapidly increasing in many low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), particularly those undergoing rapid demographic and socioeconomic transitions. There is substantial evidence that early life influences, in particular prenatal environmental conditions such as maternal adiposity, play an important role in the development of obesity in children. Childhood obesity is a serious health concern itself and children have an increased risk of developing asthma, bone and joint problems, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease later in life. Pediatric surgeons have to manage a greater number of obese children who are more likely to have surgery related complications. Identification by and awareness among pediatric surgeons will be crucial in optimizing the hospital stay and outcome of these children. Obese children are more likely to become obese adults and have an increased risk for noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) later in life. Early prevention interventions are needed to break the cycle of obesity one generation to another and will be most cost-effective, both in low and high income societies.
KeywordsChildhood obesity Epidemiology Interventions Life-course Noncommunicable diseases Prevention
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