New Recommendations on Childhood Obesity

Posted: Jan 01 in Obesity Medicine by

All children should be screened for obesity, and children with obesity should be referred for medical treatment.  These are the new guidelines from the US Preventative Services Task Force, the result of analysis of current available data and the risks of not treating childhood obesity.  This group pulls together experts in the field and provides guidance to primary care and specialist physicians.  This advise comes at at time when the rate of obesity has doubled since the 1970s.

First, to explain how we define obesity.  Children at different ages have different normals for body mass index BMI.  In simple terms, the higher a child’s BMI, the more likely he/she is to be overweight.  To assess for obesity, you’ll need to convert to BMI for age percentile.  I have found the best assessment of BMI for each age can be found at:  http://www.bcm.edu/cnrc/bodycomp/bmiz2.html.

A normal BMI % is <85. 85-95% is considered overweight, and >95% carries a diagnosis of obesity.

Next, for the treatment side.  That’s where the controversy really begins.  The recommendations did not address specific treatment for children with obesity. Our experience has shown that children can lose significant weight through a medical weight loss program that includes nutrition intervention, behavior change, exercise, and appetite suppressants in some cases.  Children tolerate the treatment program will, and improve their self esteem while improving the medical diseases caused by obesity.

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