Characteristics of obese children aged 1-4 years at a referral clinic

Katherine R. Welch, Adolfo J. Ariza, Joanna L. Wieczorek, Helen J. Binns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: To describe characteristics and indicators of nutritional status of young, obese children. Study Design: Medical records of 135 children aged 1-4 years seen in an urban referral setting between January 2000 and June 2006 were reviewed. Characteristics associated with severe obesity [percent ideal body weight (%IBW) ≥160%] were determined. Relationships between %IBW, weight-for-height Z score (WHZ), body mass index (BMI) and BMI Z score (BMIZ) were evaluated. Receiver operating characteristic analyses evaluated BMI values classifying severe and moderate (140-159% IBW) obesity. Results: Children were: 41% male, 71% Hispanic, 76% Medicaid/uninsured, 64% ever breastfed, had median BMI of 25.0 kg/m2 and median %IBW of 159. Fifty-two percent of mothers had BMI ≥30 kg/m2. Severely obese children more frequently had an obese mother, birthweight ≥4 kg, were older, male, never breastfed and reported higher juice intake. WHZ and BMIZ were lowest at 4 years; BMI and %IBW were lowest at 1 year. %IBW and BMI were highly correlated. BMI ≥22.2 kg/m2 indicated moderate obesity (sensitivity=0.90, specificity=0.93), and BMI ≥25.0 kg/m2 indicated severe obesity (sensitivity=0.97, specificity=0.92). Conclusion: Few current health behaviors and many family or past risk factors were associated with degree of obesity. %IBW and BMI may be the most useful nutritional status measures to track progress in young, obese children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)884-891
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the National Medical Association
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2008


  • Body mass index
  • Body weight
  • Children/adolescents
  • Referral
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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