Background: Childhood obesity has become a major global epidemic that causes substantial social and health burdens worldwide. The effectiveness of childhood obesity control and prevention depends largely on understanding the issue, including its current development and associated factors in a contextualized perspective. Objectives: Our study aimed to gauge this kind of understanding. Methods: We systematically searched the Web of Science database for studies concerning child obesity published up to 2017 and analyzed the volume of publications, growth rates, impact scores, collaborations, authors, affiliations, and journals. A total of 57,444 research papers were included. Results: The three subject categories with the highest number of papers (over 3,000) were (1) nutrition and dietetics, (2) pediatrics, and (3) public, environmental, and occupational health. We found a dramatic increase in the amount of scientific literature on childhood obesity in the past one or two decades, led by scholars from the USA – ranking at the top regarding the total number of papers (23,965 papers; 30.8%) and total number of citations (859,793 citations) – and multiple Western countries where the obesity epidemic is prevalent. Conclusions: The findings highlight the need for improving international and local research capacities and collaboration to accelerate knowledge production and translation into contextualized and effective childhood obesity prevention.

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