CDC Updates Tool to Help Treat Childhood Obesity

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released broader growth charts to measure children with severe obesity and to help with their treatment.

Key takeaways:
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    The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) unveiled new BMI charts to help treat children with severe obesity.
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    Childhood obesity is a serious and growing problem in the United States. It affects almost 20% of children and teens ages 2 to 19.
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    The CDC encouraged health care providers to work with families on comprehensive care plans using the new BMI charts.

The CDC explained that their new BMI chart is an effort to combat the growing childhood obesity epidemic in the United States.

"I encourage healthcare providers to use the extended growth charts as a tool when working with children and adolescents with severe obesity. Intervening early is critical to improving the health of our children as they grow into adults."

Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the CDC’s NCCDPHP

Childhood obesity affects nearly 20% (14.7 million) of U.S. children and teens aged 2 to 19.

Obesity is linked to a number of health problems, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, breathing problems like asthma and sleep apnea, and joint problems.

According to the (CDC), a child is obese if their body mass index (BMI) is greater than that of 95% of children of the same age and gender. They are considered severely obese if their BMI is more than 120 points above the 95th percentile.

Previous BMI charts did not extend far enough to include the growing number of children with severe obesity.

The CDC encouraged health care providers to work with families on comprehensive care plans using the new BMI charts, citing Family Healthy Weight Programs.

Family Healthy Weight Programs are comprehensive, evidence-based behavioral treatment programs for children who are overweight.

Some of the programs include:


COMMIT! stands for Childhood Obesity Management with MEND Implementation Teams. In this program, counseling on healthy eating, exercise, and behavior modification strategies, as well as skill development, is provided for at least 26 hours, with an emphasis on the whole family.

Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration Projects (CORD)

CORD programs help reduce childhood obesity in areas with low incomes and a wide range of ethnicities by including effective preventative and treatment measures. These programs are often promoted in preschools, elementary schools, and community centers.

The CDC noted there will be no changes in growth charts for children and teens who are not overweight. Dr. Hacker and the rest of CDC’s NCCDPHP team expect the new BMI charts for overweight children will be useful to any healthcare providers treating childhood obesity.


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