Obesity in Children


Obesity means weighing too much for a given height. The Body Mass Index or BMI test determines overweight and obesity. The BMI is calculated by dividing a person’s weight in kilograms by the square of their height in meters.For children and teenagers, the BMI is particular for both age and gender. Children who are obese when very young are much more likely to be obese or overweight as adults.


  • High-calorie, low-nutrient foods & drinks
  • Not enough physical activity
  • Sedentary activities (too much television and screen time)
  • Sleep routines
  • Environments that do not support healthy habits
  • Diseases or other medical problems

Effects on Bone, Joint, & Muscle Health

Obesity can have a harmful effect on the musculoskeletal system. Obese children are at risk for several orthopedic conditions.

Blount’s Disease:
Blount’s disease is a severe bowing of the legs. This can happen both in young children and in adolescents. It is much more likely in children who are obese or overweight. In young children or mild cases, this may sometimes be treated with braces or may get better on its own. In more severe cases, surgery may be needed. The legs may need to be straightened by using a plate and screws or an external fixator.

Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis:
Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis or SCFE is a condition in which the top part of the femur (the the ball in the ball-and-socket joint of the hip) slips, through its growth plate, off the rest of the femur. SCFE is more common in obese and overweight children. SCFE requires surgery, usually by placing a screw to hold the hip ball in place.

Flat Feet:
Children who are obese may be more likely to have flat feet. Flat feet usually do not hurt and do not need treatment. Some flat feet can be painful, especially when the Achilles tendon (or heel cord) is tight.


For most kids, 2 simple things every day can help to maintain a healthy weight with strong bones.

  1. A varied, healthy diet with plenty of calcium and other nutrients
  2. At least 30-60 minutes of physical activity and exercise