Obese children over one-third more likely to request a visit to the hospital's emergency department



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New research presented at this year's European Obesity Congress (ECO) in Glasgow, Scotland (April 28-May 1) reveals that obese children are more than one-third more likely to go to the hospital than their normal weight counterparts. The research was conducted by Taimoor Hasan, Department of Health Sciences, York University, York, UK, and colleagues.

It is known that overweight and obese individuals are at greater risk of developing a range of potentially very serious medical conditions, and this high morbidity leads to increased use of health services. Contrary to adult obesity, little is known about the overload of overweight health in children, so in this new study, the authors sought to analyze the association between overweight or obesity with the level of utilization of childhood health services .

The team based their analysis on observational studies selected from a number of medical research databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, PubMed, Web of Science and CINAHL) by June 2018. Anyone who assessed the impact of overweight or obesity in the use of health services children (age 0-18 years) were selected for a more detailed study.

Thirty-five studies were eligible for this review. These studies have reported different measures of use of health services. Thirteen studies reported on outpatient visits, nine in emergency department (ED) consultations, five on hospital admission, and four on hospital admission. Only seven of these studies reported sufficient data to be included in the meta-analysis – six from the US and one from Canada.

The authors found that, when compared to healthy weight children, those who were obese had, on average, a 36% higher probability of visiting a hospital emergency department, while overweight children were 17% more likely to use emergency. Obesity was also found to be associated with an average 9% increase in visits to outpatient services, although this was only statistically significant borderline.

The researchers observed that, for other measures of the health service, such as hospital admission rate or length of stay, the association with overweight was mixed. Some studies reported an increase, while others reported a decrease in the use of health services.

In all eligible studies, the researchers found an increase in the use of emergency services and outpatient services for obese and overweight children, although the strength of the association between child weight and the likelihood of a visit was variable.

The authors conclude: "This review and meta-analysis identified an increased use of emergency and outpatient services in obese children. Of the seven studies combined, obese children had a 36% increased risk of visiting the emergency department compared with normal weight children. "

They added, "This review also identified that health service use is defined by different parameters and more research is needed to better understand the association of childhood obesity with this broad range of parameters."


Systematic review shows that the risk of a child developing overweight or obesity is more than tripled by maternal obesity before


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European Association for the Study of Obesity

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Obese children with more than one-third more need a visit to the hospital's emergency department (2019, May 1)
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