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A society out of equlibrium
Adipositas (pathological obesity) seems to be spreading like a pandemia (worldwide epidemic) and is today considered one of the fastest-growing health risks. It is not only associated with accompanying conditions and after-effects, but also personal suffering. While scientists are frantically researching the causes of this multi-systemic phenomenon, the call for solutions in all sectors of society is getting louder and louder, in order to stem this crisis in public health care.

Obesity and adipositas ? what's the difference?

Not every chubby child needs treatment, nor is every extra kilo a health threat. A clear definition and risk assessement is required to prevent both children and adults from becoming unnecessarily "sick".

Anyone that weighs more than the norm is considered overweight. However, we would never dream of treating a bodybuilder on account of his increased bodyweight. We only talk about obesity in the medical sense when there is an excess of body fat. If this body fat increases to such a degree that it can affect one's health, we talk about adipositas. Because it is relatively difficult to determine body fat, the Body Mass Index (MBI) has been developed for the purposes of definition and assessment. It has recently been recommended by the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) and the European Childhood Obesity Group (ECOG) for children and young people too, because it shows a good correlation between sub-cutaneous fat tissue, skin fold thickness and body fat.

While the use of BMI limits for defining obesity and adipositas in adults is relatively common, it is not possible to indicate constant BMI limits for children. This is because in children, body fat varies with age (rapid rise in the early years, drop off at pre-school age and significant increase from the age of 7, referred to as adiposity rebound). In children, therefore, assessment is carried out on the basis of age and gender-specific BMI percentiles. To define obesity and adipositas, the IOTF recommends the use of those percentiles that run into the corresponding BMI limits for adults. Today, this is only the case with some of the available percentile curves (e.g. Cole 2002). Treating these limits as a worldwide standard in the future will enable a better international comparison of data. A group of experts at the World Health Organisation WHO are currently focussing on this issue.

Source: nutritio Nr. 47 1/03 Copyright: Used with permission