The impact of obesity on severely injured children and adolescents

Carlos V R Brown, Angela L. Neville, Ali Salim, Peter Rhee, Kyle Cologne, Demetrios Demetriades

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Purpose/Background: In conjunction with the obesity epidemic in adults, we are starting to see an increase of obesity in children and adolescents. Obesity has been identified as risk factor for poor outcomes in adult trauma patients, but has not been investigated adequately in younger patients. The purpose of this study was to investigate the impact of obesity on the outcomes of a severely injured population of children and adolescents. Methods: Retrospective review of traumatized children (age 6-12) and adolescents (age 13-19) admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) at an urban, level I trauma center from 1998 to 2003. The trauma registry and ICU database were used for data acquisition. Height and weight were recorded for each patient upon admission to the ICU and used to calculate body mass index (BMI). Patients were categorized as either lean (BMI <95th percentile for age) or obese (BMI ≥95th percentile for age). The two groups were compared regarding admission demographics, vital signs, mechanism of injury, patterns of injury, Injury Severity Score, and operations required. Outcomes evaluated were need for and length of mechanical ventilation, complications, length of hospital and ICU stay, and mortality. Results: There were 316 pediatric and adolescent trauma patients (262 [83%] lean, mean BMI = 23 kg/m2 and 54 [17%] obese, mean BMI = 33 kg/m 2) admitted to the ICU. The lean and obese groups were similar regarding age, sex, mechanism of injury, admission vitals, injury severity, and operations required. Injury patterns were similar, except obese patients had less severe head injuries. Although there was no difference in mortality among obese (15%) and non-obese (9%) patients (P = .39), obese children did have more complications (41% vs 22%, P = .04). In addition, obese patients required longer ICU stays (8 ± 9 vs 6 ± 6 days, P = .05) after severe trauma. Conclusions: Despite similar admission characteristics and less severe head injuries, obese children and adolescents have more complications and require longer ICU stays than their lean counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-91
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Pediatric Surgery
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Childhood obesity
  • Outcomes
  • Trauma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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