The prevalence of overweight in youth is increasing dramatically in the United States. The intimate relationship of obesity and overweight with cardiovascular risk factors and diabetes in adults raises concern for the likelihood of subsequent disease development in children. Ethnic minorities are so disproportionately affected by overweight that a call to action is necessary. The International Society on Hypertension in Blacks convened this work group as part of a larger effort to focus on cardiovascular risk protection beginning in childhood and adolescence, entitled the "Children are Our Messengers: Changing the Health Message" initiative. This summary article reviews the data on cardiovascular risk factors and overweight in ethnic children and adolescents, and culminates in a practical algorithm for evaluating overweight children for cardiovascular risk.