Background: Although obesity affects approximately one in five youths, only a fraction is treated in pediatric weight management clinics. Characteristics distinguishing youth with obesity who seek weight management treatment from those who do not are largely unknown. Yet identification of specific health characteristics which differentiate treatment-seeking from non-treatment seeking youth with obesity may shed light on underlying motivations for pursuing treatment. Objectives: Compare the cardiometabolic profiles of an obesity treatment-seeking sample of youth to a population-based sample of youth with obesity, while controlling for body mass index (BMI). Methods: This cross-sectional study included participants, ages 12–17 years, with obesity from the Pediatric Obesity and Weight Evaluation Registry (POWER) and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, representing the treatment-seeking and population samples, respectively. Mean differences were calculated for systolic and diastolic blood pressure percentiles, total cholesterol, low-density and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, triglycerides, fasting glucose, glycated hemoglobin and alanine aminotransferase, while adjusting for age, sex, race/ethnicity, insurance status, and multiple of the 95th BMI percentile. Results: The POWER and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey cohorts included 1,823 and 617 participants, respectively. The POWER cohort had higher systolic blood pressure percentile (mean difference 17.4, 95% confidence interval [14.6, 20.1], p < 0.001), diastolic blood pressure percentile (21.8 [19, 24.5], p < 0.001), triglycerides (42.3 [28, 56.5], p < 0.001) and alanine aminotransferase (7.5 [5.1, 9.8], p < 0.001) and lower fasting glucose (−6.9 [−8.2, −5.6], p < 0.001) and high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (−2.3 [−3.8, −0.9], p < 0.002). There were no differences in total cholesterol or low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol or clinical differences in glycated hemoglobin. Conclusion: For a given BMI, obesity treatment-seeking youth are more adversely affected by cardiometabolic risk factors than the general population of youth with obesity. This suggests that treatment-seeking youth may represent a distinct group that is at particularly high risk for the development of future cardiometabolic disease.
- Cardiometabolic risk factor
- treatment seeking