Childhood obesity: current definitions and recommendations for their use



    Corresponding author
    1. INSERM U557; INRA U1125; CNAM; Université Paris 13, Centre de Recherche en Nutrition Humaine d'Ile-de-France; Unité de Recherche en Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle (UREN), F-93017 Bobigny, France
    2. Institut de Veille Sanitaire (InVS) – Université Paris 13; Unité de Surveillance et d'Epidémiologie Nutritionnelle (USEN), F-93017 Bobigny, France
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    • This article by M. F. Rolland-Cachera was shared with the members of the European Childhood Obesity Group (ECOG) on the ECOG website ( from May 18 to June 14 2010, and their comments were integrated in the final version.

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Childhood obesity is considered a major issue because of its high prevalence and because of its severe consequences on adult health. Prevalence studies are carried out in numerous countries. Analysis of time trends and geographic comparisons are particularly useful, as they may help to identify factors promoting obesity. These studies require adequate definitions of nutritional status and standardized protocols, but in practice, the references, cut-offs and the terminology used vary considerably, and consequently ambiguous information may be found in the literature. Recommendations for the definition of childhood obesity were previously published in 1995 by the European Childhood Obesity Group (ECOG), but new references appeared later. A clarification of the different definitions was needed. Currently used classifications of nutritional status in children are summarized, and recommendations for the references, cut-offs and terms to be used in different contexts are provided. These new ECOG recommendations should help harmonize the various protocols and improve comparisons between studies.