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Percentage of Children with Abdominal Obesity is Leveling Off

Update Date: Jul 21, 2014 09:33 AM EDT

New statistics have concluded that the rates of abdominal obesity in children have finally leveled off. The report conducted by the researchers from the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis found that after these rates increased steadily for 10 years, the percentage of children classified as abdominally obese has remained pretty much the same from 2003 to 2012.

"Even though the trends were flat across the years, the prevalence of abdominal obesity is still too high," said senior author Lyn M. Steffen.

For this study, Steffen and colleagues examined nearly 17,000 children taken from a nationwide health and nutrition study. Abdominal obesity was measured by waist circumference or by taking a ratio of the waist to height. The team found that from 2011 to 2012, 18 percent of children between the ages of two and 18 were classified as obese based on waist circumference. This percentage was very close to the rate found from 2003 to 2004.

When the team used the waist to height ratio, they found that 33 percent of children between the ages of six and 18 were obese. The only changes in the rate of abdominal obesity from 2003 to 2012 were in children aged two to five. During this time span, the rate fell by three to five percent.

"Number one, it's good, the prevalence of abdominal obesity remained the same over the last eight years, that's good, but the prevalence is still high, so we need to think about what to do to lower the numbers," Asheley Cockrell Skinner stated via e-mail to Reuters Health. "Recent publications tell us that overweight and obesity in general are leveling off, but the more severe forms of obesity are increasing."

The researchers stated that oftentimes, extremely obese children will become morbidly obese adults. Since obesity is one of the leading causes of preventive deaths, it is vital to nip the disease early on in life.

The study, "Trends in Abdominal Obesity Among US Children and Adolescents," was published in Pediatrics.

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