A Narrative Review of Medical and Genetic Risk Factors among Children Age 5 and Younger with Severe Obesity

Nazrat Mirza, Thao Ly Phan, June Tester, Angela Fals, Cristina F. Fernández, George Datto, Elizabeth Estrada, Ihuoma Eneli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

5 Scopus citations


Severe obesity defined as an age-and gender-specific body mass index ≥120% of the 95th percentile in children younger than 5 years is well recognized as a significant challenge for prevention and treatment. This article provides an overview of the prevalence, classification of obesity severity, patterns of weight gain trajectory, medical and genetic risk factors, and comorbid disorders among young children with an emphasis on severe obesity. Studies suggest rapid weight gain trajectory in infancy, maternal smoking, maternal gestational diabetes, and genetic conditions are associated with an increased risk for severe obesity in early childhood. Among populations of young children with severe obesity seeking care, co-morbid conditions such as dyslipidemia and fatty liver disease are present and families report behavioral concerns and developmental delays. Children with severe obesity by age 5 represent a vulnerable population of children at high medical risk and need to be identified early and appropriately managed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)443-452
Number of pages10
JournalChildhood Obesity
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

Cite this

Mirza, N., Phan, T. L., Tester, J., Fals, A., Fernández, C. F., Datto, G., ... Eneli, I. (2018). A Narrative Review of Medical and Genetic Risk Factors among Children Age 5 and Younger with Severe Obesity. Childhood Obesity, 14(7), 443-452. https://doi.org/10.1089/chi.2017.0350