Children's Hospital Colorado
Lifestyle Medicine Program

Obesity in Children

Parents and caregivers know their kids best. That’s why we put families at the center of every care team.

U.S. News & World Report ranked in all 10 specialties badge

Get Care

Would you like to learn more about us?
Weight Management
Do you have questions about your child’s condition?
Want a second opinion?
Get started

What is pediatric obesity?

Pediatric obesity occurs when a child weighs significantly more than he or she should based on height and gender. It is a serious medical condition on its own, but is particularly important because of the other medical problems that can develop from it, called co-morbidities. These include type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, arthritis and obstructive sleep apnea.

What causes pediatric obesity?

Obesity is likely caused by many different factors in combination. Some people have a genetic pre-disposition to obesity, and being obese tends to run in families. Some children have hormone imbalances that can cause the condition.

However, for the most part, obesity is most strongly linked to eating too many calories and exercising too little. Many factors that are linked to these obesity factors are the result of changes in our society and culture over the last few decades including drinking more sweetened beverages, bigger portion sizes, more 'eating out' compared to cooking at home, not eating as a family, watching more television, playing more video games, exercising less and fewer physical education classes in school, to name a few.

Who gets pediatric obesity?

Children from both sexes and every race and ethnic background can develop obesity. The condition tends to run in families, so children of overweight parents may be more likely to become obese.

Experts estimate about 17% of children, or about 10 million kids in the United States are obese.

Next steps