Obesity affects ∼20% of U.S. youth, with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] ≥120th of the 95th percentile and/or ≥35 kg/m2) at record high prevalence.1,2  Although numerous public health strategies geared toward reducing or preventing pediatric obesity have been implemented, these have had limited success overall. One approach that has been successful for several diseases, but not yet attempted for pediatric obesity, is a public health emergency declaration.

In this perspective, we discuss pediatric obesity in the United States, needs for further effective interventions, previous public health strategies for mitigation, public health emergencies, and arguments favoring and opposing a pediatric obesity declaration. We focus on pediatric obesity for 2 main reasons. First, because obesity affects ∼40% of US adults, given such high prevalence, a single public health emergency may be impractical and therefore starting with pediatric obesity may be more realistic. Second, because most...

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