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obesityThere are very few options for effective treatments for severely obese kids and teens.

About 4% to 6% of children and teens in the USA are severely obese, and yet there are very few effective options for helping these kids reach a healthy weight, says a scientific statement out Monday from the American Heart Association.

The heart group is promoting a definition for severely obese children as those who fall at the very high end of weight charts. This is also called extreme or morbid obesity.

The percentage of severely obese kids is increasing at a time when the percentage of overweight and obese kids seems to be leveling off, says lead author Aaron Kelly, an associate professor in the department of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota.

The heaviest children in this country have higher rates of type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, liver disease, sleep apnea, musculoskeletal problems and early signs of clogged arteries, he says. “Those are the immediate consequences, but we also know that severe obesity in childhood is a strong predictor of morbid obesity in adulthood.”