Childhood obesity requires early and aggressive treatment : NPR


Over 14.4 million children and adolescents live with obesity. New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend early treatment.

Patrick Sison/AP


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Patrick Sison/AP


Over 14.4 million children and adolescents live with obesity. New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend early treatment.

Patrick Sison/AP

Obese children should be offered more intensive treatment options earlier, including therapy and medication, according to the leading group of American pediatricians.

New guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics on childhood obesity – the first in 15 years – move away from “watchful waiting” or delaying treatment to see if children overcome obesity.

The group now advises paediatricians to “provide treatment options early and at the highest intensity available” for one of the most common chronic conditions in children. Untreated, obesity is associated with a range of long-term health problems, including heart disease and diabetes.

“The goal is to help patients make lasting lifestyle, behavior or environmental changes and involve families in decision-making every step of the way,” said author Dr. Sandra Hassink. of the new orientation and vice-president. of the AAP’s Clinical Practice Guidelines Subcommittee on Obesity, said in a press release.

The most effective interventions require more than 26 hours over three to 12 months of intense, in-person behavior and lifestyle treatment by health care providers. Such treatment includes coaching on nutrition, physical activity, and behavioral changes, such as parent modeling.

This approach should be used for children 6 and older — and may be recommended for those as young as 2 — and their families, according to the AAP. But he acknowledges that this type of time-consuming treatment is not universally available and is often difficult to provide.

After this intensive therapy, weight-loss drugs should be considered for adolescents as young as 12, the AAP says, while adolescents 13 and older with severe obesity should be evaluated for bariatric surgery.

This push to treat obesity earlier follows the approval for children 12 and older of a new weight-loss drug called Wegovy, a weekly injection of a drug that is also used to treat diabetes. Although it has helped teens reduce their BMI – or body mass index – by around 16%, it has been difficult to access due to recent shortages and the refusal of insurance companies to cover it.

The more than 14.4 million children who live with obesity face widespread, harsh and unfair stigma, often even from the doctors who are supposed to treat them. The AAP guidelines call for a “whole child” approach, recognizing that obesity has complex causes, including genetics and socioeconomic status rather than personal choices, and emphasizing non-communicative communication. stigmatizing and favorable.

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