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Model Quantifies Energy Excess Underlying Obesity in Children

Development of childhood obesity requires much greater excess energy intake than adult obesity

TUESDAY, July 30 (HealthDay News) -- A mathematical model has been developed and validated for childhood energy balance, which quantifies the energy excess underlying obesity, according to research published online July 30 in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.

Kevin D. Hall, Ph.D., from the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues developed and validated a mathematical model of childhood energy balance, which takes into account healthy growth and the development of obesity, and makes quantitative predictions about interventions for weight management.

The researchers found that by using the model it was possible to accurately simulate the changes in body composition and energy expenditure reported in reference data during healthy growth. The model was also able to predict increases in energy intake from the ages of 5 to 18 years (about 1,200 and 900 kcal for boys and girls, respectively). Compared with development of adult obesity, the development of childhood obesity necessitated considerably greater excess energy intake. According to the model, excess energy intake in overweight and obese children was much higher than the typical energy balance calculated according to growth charts. Based on the model, a therapeutic window might exist when children can outgrow obesity without losing weight, particularly in boys who are not severely obese during a period of high growth potential.

"This model quantifies the energy excess underlying obesity and calculates the necessary intervention magnitude to achieve body weight change in children," the authors write. "Policy makers and clinicians now have a quantitative technique for understanding the childhood obesity epidemic and planning interventions to control it."

One author reports a U.S. patent application assigned to the National Institutes of Health related to the use of mathematical models of human metabolism for body weight management.

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