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Pediatric obesity is a complex condition with multiple subtypes

Large EHR databases represent important sources of information for clinical researchers to study many conditions including childhood obesity. Credit: Pavel Danilyuk, Pexels (CC0, creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/)

About one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese. Research published August 4th in PLOS Digital Health by Elizabeth Campbell at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, and colleagues have shown that childhood obesity may be associated with a range of health conditions.

Childhood obesity has been linked with an increased risk of developing many diseases including asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, and mental conditions. However, whether obesity is a single condition or involves unique genes with different causes is unknown. To identify clinical patterns among a population of obese children, researchers conducted a recent studiesget into electronic health records of 49,694 pediatric patients at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia were obese. Using a mining algorithm, the authors analyzed the common trends surrounding the incidence of childhood obesity and compared them with control group with a healthy body mass index.

The researchers identified eight types of health conditions that were more common among children diagnosed with childhood obesity, including respiratory and sleep disorders, inflammatory skin conditions, asthma, respiratory diseases, gastrointestinal / genitourinary diseases, and neurodevelopmental diseases. The study has several limitations, however, including a potential false discovery rate, and a threshold of 10% prevalence to classify the “most common” condition. Future studies are needed to demonstrate the factors that moderate the associations between childhood obesity and the diseases identified in the study.

According to the authors, “Obesity is a complex and social phenomenon that can affect different clinical and social aspects of different pediatric patients. The determination of all types of obesity and obesity in a single clinical setting can hide associations between risk factors and specific types of obesity. , which has implications for improving the prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of childhood obesity. Our results can support the work of health researchers public and practitioners seeking to address the social inequality problem of obesity.”

Campbell added, “Electronic Health Records represent important data for use in research to investigate childhood obesity and other health problems. We hope that our research will not only add to the ongoing work and the fight against obesity, but for the development of ways to use them. large complex data in clinical research.”


Childhood obesity in America Over the last 12 years


Additional information:
Campbell EA, Maltenfort MG, Shults J, Forrest CB, Masino AJ (2022) Characteristics of clinical childhood obesity using electronic health record data, PLOS Digital Health (2022). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pdig.0000073

Its availability
Public Library of Science

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