But, she noted, "even though the measures are significantly better, they're still not normal," indicating that interventions might have to occur sooner.
"These data support a more aggressive preventive approach to adolescent weight issues," Ippisch said.
The prevalence of childhood obesity has risen from about 5% in the 1970s to about 17% today, according to Stephen Daniels, MD, PhD, MPH, of Children's Hospital in Denver, who moderated a press conference at which the results were presented.
The severity of obesity has increased as well, he said, making bariatric surgery a treatment consideration for some of these kids.
Consensus criteria generally reserve bariatric surgery for children with a body mass index over over 50 kg/m2 or for those with a BMI over 40 kg/m2 and serious comorbidities such as obstructive sleep apnea and type 2 diabetes.
Ippisch said leaner children might qualify for bariatric surgery depending on the burden of comorbidities.