Parents want to do their best when raising their children. One of the growing health problems for children and adolescents in the United States that parents should be monitoring for is obesity. It is estimated that more than 14 million children suffer from obesity in the United States. Obesity can cause serious short- and long-term health concerns when not treated. The medical field has learned that obesity involves genetic, physiologic, socioeconomic, and environmental factors.
What the American Academy of Pediatrics is Saying About Obesity
For the first time in 15 years the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) published a comprehensive guide titled “Clinical Practice Guidelines for the Evaluation and Treatment of Pediatric Obesity,” on how to treat obesity safely and effectively in children. Dr. Sarah Hampl, who helped write the guide stated, “Weight is a sensitive topic for most of us, and children and teens are especially aware of the harsh and unfair stigma that comes with being affected by it. Research tells us that we need to take a close look at families — where they live, their access to nutritious food, health care, and opportunities for physical activity. Kids need the medical support, understanding, and resources we can provide within a treatment plan that involves the whole family. The goal is to help patients make changes in lifestyle, behaviors or environment in a way that is sustainable and involves families in decision-making at every step of the way.”
American Academy of Pediatrics Obesity Recommendation Highlights
The comprehensive guide contains many evidence-based recommendations for assessing and treating children who are overweight or obese. Some of the recommendation highlights from the guide include:
- Obesity treatment may include nutritional support, physical activity, behavioral therapy, medication, and possibly surgery
- Intensive health behavior and lifestyle treatment is very effective for treating children with obesity
- Parents and caregivers being actively involved in obesity treatment may be helpful
- Physicians may want to offer children 12 years old and greater who are struggling with obesity, medication to help with weight loss, along with behavior and lifestyle modifications
- Children 13 years old and greater that are severely obese and have a body mass index (BMI) that is 120% or more than the 95th percentile for age and sex, should be considered for surgery to help with weight loss
The Bottom Line for Parents
Parents should monitor their children’s weight regularly and see a healthcare provider if they have concerns or questions. Detecting and treating obesity early will help prevent long-term health complications for children. Teach your children about the importance of maintaining a healthy weight and preventing obesity. Lead by example by having the whole family practice healthy lifestyle habits.
- Obesity in children and adolescents: Updated AAP guidance. HealthyChildren.org. (2023, January 9). Retrieved January 26, 2023