The prevalence of child and adolescent obesity has plateaued at high levels in most high-income countries and is increasing in many low-income and middle-income countries. Obesity arises when a mix of genetic and epigenetic factors, behavioural risk patterns and broader environmental and sociocultural influences affect the two body weight regulation systems: energy homeostasis, including leptin and gastrointestinal tract signals, operating predominantly at an unconscious level, and cognitive-emotional control that is regulated by higher brain centres, operating at a conscious level. Health-related quality of life is reduced in those with obesity. Comorbidities of obesity, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, fatty liver disease and depression, are more likely in adolescents and in those with severe obesity. Treatment incorporates a respectful, stigma-free and family-based approach involving multiple components, and addresses dietary, physical activity, sedentary and sleep behaviours. In adolescents in particular, adjunctive therapies can be valuable, such as more intensive dietary therapies, pharmacotherapy and bariatric surgery. Prevention of obesity requires a whole-system approach and joined-up policy initiatives across government departments. Development and implementation of interventions to prevent paediatric obesity in children should focus on interventions that are feasible, effective and likely to reduce gaps in health inequalities.
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