Obesity And Pediatric Overweight

Section Author: Katharine L. Loeb, Ph.D. (Fairleigh Dickinson University, and Mount Sinai School of Medicine)


Obesity is defined as an excess of body weight, relative to height, that is attributed to an abnormally high proportion of body fat. A common metric to calculate presence and degree of obesity is body mass index (BMI). The mathematical formula is for BMI is weight in kilograms / (height in meters)². For adults, a BMI of 25-29.9 represents an overweight status, and a BMI over 30 corresponds to obesity. While there is no scientifically accepted definition of obesity in children and adolescents, pediatric overweight is defined as a BMI-for-age meeting or exceeding the 95th percentile; the 85th percentile marks the point at which a child or adolescent becomes at risk for overweight. Overweight and obesity, which are alarmingly on the rise among children, adolescents, and adults, are established risk factors for a number of medical complications and diseases including diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, and sleep apnea. Obesity is not an eating disorder, but it can be associated with maladaptive eating patterns.

Psychological Treatments

Note: Other psychological treatments may also be effective in treating Obesity, but they have not been evaluated with the same scientific rigor as the treatments above. Medications may also be helpful for Obesity, but we do not cover medications in this website. Of course, we recommend a consultation with a mental health professional for an accurate diagnosis and discussion of various treatment options. When you meet with a professional, be sure to work together to establish clear treatment goals and to monitor progress toward those goals. Feel free to print this information and take it with you to discuss your treatment plan with your therapist.