The mental health of obese children should be a primary focus of researchers studying childhood obesity, according to Christine Calamaro, PhD, CRNP, assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Nursing.

Calamaro, a leading research scientist in pediatric nursing, says, "My interest in this is not just about the weight of our kids anymore. It is about all the problems associated with obesity. When you start talking about adolescents [emerging] into adulthood, you have to consider co-morbidities, such as depression and diabetes."

In the past 40 years, the number of obese children has increased four-fold, according to the National Institutes of Health, now reaching 17 percent of children and adolescents ages 2-19 years.

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