Childhood obesity is rapidly emerging as a global epidemic that will have profound public health consequences as overweight children become overweight adults. To address this problem, action is needed at national and international levels. However, well-documented evidence of the trends in and global prevalence of obesity in children and adolescents is required to develop sound public health policies. There is no internationally acceptable index to assess childhood obesity nor is there an established cutoff point to define overweight in children. The purpose of the workshop was to establish a reasonable index with which to assess adiposity (overweight) in children and adolescents worldwide. We present here a summary of the discussion on the establishment of an index. The participants concluded that although body mass index (BMI; in kg/m2) is not a perfect measure in children because it covaries with height, it has been validated against measurements of body density. Because a consistent and pragmatic definition for overweight in children and adolescents is required, BMI may therefore be appropriate. However, other alternatives may be considered in the future. The group suggested a scheme for cutoff points for children and adolescents based on internationally accepted BMI cutoff points for adult morbidity of 25 and 30 to identify grade 1 and grade 2 overweight, respectively. Use of these cutoff points would provide a new approach to identifying childhood obesity and make the definition for children and adolescents consistent with that for adults.
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