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With many different subtypes, paediatric obesity is a complicated illness

According to a study, 8 medical disorders are frequently detected in obese children in the United States.

In the United States, almost one-third of kids are overweight or obese.

According to a study by Elizabeth Campbell of Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and colleagues that was published in August 2022 in PLOS Digital Health, a number of underlying medical issues may be linked to paediatric obesity. Asthma, diabetes, hypertension, and psychological disorders are among the comorbidities that are associated with a higher risk of development in children who are obese.

It is unknown, however, whether obesity is a single disorder or consists of several phenotypes with various underlying causes.

Researchers performed a retrospective cohort analysis, gaining access to the electronic health records of 49,694 paediatric patients at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia who were diagnosed with obesity, in order to find clinically similar subtypes among a sample of obese paediatric patients. The authors compared a control group with a healthy body mass index to the common condition trajectories surrounding the occurrence of juvenile obesity using a pattern mining method.

In children who had been diagnosed with paediatric obesity, the researchers discovered eight classes of medical conditions that were very common. These conditions included respiratory and sleep disorders, inflammatory skin conditions, asthma, seizure disorders, gastrointestinal/genitourinary symptoms, and neurodevelopmental disorders.

According to the authors, “Obesity is a complex and socially significant health issue that may affect different clinical and demographic subtypes of pediatric patients differently. Grouping all types of overweight and obesity into one clinical condition may conceal associations between risk factors and specific subtypes of obesity, which has implications for improving prevention, recognition, and treatment of pediatric obesity. Our findings can support the work of public health researchers and practitioners who seek to address the social disparities component of the obesity epidemic.” Electronic Health Records represent valuable sources of data for use in research to investigate pediatric obesity and other pressing health issues. We hope that our findings not only add to ongoing work that is combatting the obesity epidemic, but to methodological advances in using large complex datasets in clinical research.”

However, the study had a number of drawbacks, including the possibility of false discovery rate and the use of an arbitrary 10% prevalence criterion for defining illnesses as “high prevalence”.

Future research is required to identify the mechanisms mediating the relationships between paediatric obesity and the co-occurring conditions found in the study.

With many different subtypes, paediatric obesity is a complicated illness

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