The 2011 Pennington Biomedical Research Center's Scientific Symposium focused on adiposity in children and adolescents. The symposium was attended by 15 speakers and other invited experts. The specific objectives of the symposium were to (i) integrate the latest published and unpublished findings on the laboratory and clinical assessment of depot-specific adiposity in children and adolescents, (ii) understand the variation in depot-specific adiposity and related health outcomes associated with age, sex, maturation, ethnicity and other factors and (iii) identify opportunities for incorporating new markers of abdominal obesity into clinical practice guidelines for obesity in children and adolescents. This symposium provided an overview of important new advances in the field and identified directions for future research. The long-term goal of the symposium is to aid in the early identification of children and adolescents who are at increased health risk because of obesity and obesity-related conditions.