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Overweight, Obese Children Use More Health Care Resources

Health care costs significantly higher in children with diagnosed obesity

TUESDAY, Jan. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Obesity in children is linked with increased health care resource use and more health care expenses compared to healthy weight children, according to study findings published in the January issue of the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

Sarah Hampl, M.D., of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine in Kansas City, Mo., and colleagues conducted a retrospective study (2002-2003) of children aged 5 to 18 years who had well-child care visits and were followed for 12 months to measure diagnosed obesity, laboratory use, primary care visits and health care costs.

Of 8,404 patients evaluated, 57.9 percent were 10 years or older, 61.2 percent were black, 72.9 percent had Medicaid coverage and 21.9 percent were obese. Of the obese children, only 42.9 percent were diagnosed as obese. Diagnosed obesity and undiagnosed obesity was associated with increased laboratory use (odds ratios 5.49 and 2.32, respectively) compared to healthy weight children. Health care costs were significantly higher in the diagnosed obesity group (adjusted mean difference, $172) compared to normal weight children.

"Increased health care utilization and charges reported in obese adults are also present in obese children. Most children with obesity had not been diagnosed as having obesity in this administrative data set," the authors conclude.

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