The prevalence of obesity in the pediatric population has dramatically increased in the last 30 years. While the adverse health effects of obesity have long been recognized in adults, many of these complications are now understood to begin in early childhood. Obese children and adolescents are significantly more likely than their peers of healthy weight to suffer from obstructive sleep apnea and metabolic syndrome. In turn, affected individuals may experience myriad serious clinical sequelae; neuro-cognitive, psychiatric, cardiovascular, and endocrinologic complications have each been extensively documented. Thus, the spectrum of obesity-related disease represents a serious but preventable threat to personal and family wellness; additionally, it is a source of considerable health care expenditure and represents a national and international health crisis. The optimal care of these patients will be best achieved through the pediatric health care provider's timely recognition of these clinical problems and knowledge of appropriate intervention strategies.
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