The first guidance on childhood obesity has been issued by the American Academy of Paediatrics for the first time in the last 15 years.
According to US guidelines, kids struggling with weight issues should be treated early on and this includes not only medication but also surgery!
Medical experts stressed that delaying such treatment for obesity until the young ones become adults could cause serious lifelong health problems, reasons for which early treatment is apparently necessary.
Almost 15 million young United States citizens are considered to be obese so it’s more and more of a problem.
The guidelines mention that lifestyle as well as behavioral changes should be the first measures taken to try and combat obesity in children, which is associated with health issues including high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes.
However, in addition to that, they also warn against delaying the treatment and waiting this problem out, expecting it to go away on its own in time.
That being said, they now suggest, for the first time ever, that medicine for obesity should be made available for children starting at the age of 12.
As for more drastic measures, such as weight loss surgery, it can now be offered for kids 13 and older.
The co-author of the brand new guidance, Dr. Ihuoma Eneli, shared via the Associated Press that “Waiting doesn’t work. What we see is a continuation of weight gain and the likelihood that they will have (obesity) in adulthood.”
Since newer research has shown that hormones and genetics play a big role in one’s weight, the guidelines also encourage medical specialists to look at obesity as less of a lifestyle problem and more of a biological illness.
And while treatment and surgery would become available for such young patients, they are still seen as a last resort.
Instead, they promote more of a holistic approach where lifestyle changes and behavioral treatment are most encouraged and the more invasive methods are only used if they fail to make a difference.
In the United States, a few different weight loss medications are available for children 12 years of age and up, including Wegovy, a weekly injection that can reduce the BMI in teens by an average of 16 percent.
At the same time, it’s important to point out that doctors acknowledge such medication can be hard to obtain due to being expensive and a lack of insurance coverage.
In some cases, due to high demand, shortages can also be an issue.
According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, over the last 15 years, childhood obesity rates have gone from 17 percent to 10 percent in the United States.
This means that the US struggles with this issue much more than European countries and the rest of the North American continent.
Regardless, the rates of childhood obesity are still on the rise at a global level.
One Syracuse University study from 2016 estimated that there were a total of around 124 million obese kids and teens on the planet, a significant increase from the 11 million registered back in 1975.