For the first time, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that physicians offer weight-loss drugs to children who are obese, aiming to take early action against an increasingly common condition linked to a wide range of health issues.
Obese children aged 12 and up should be offered weight-loss medications as well as lifestyle and behavioral counseling, according to guidelines published by the United States' largest professional association of pediatricians.
The association also suggested that doctors refer severely obese children aged 13 and up to surgeons to determine whether they would be good candidates for bariatric surgery. It recommended that pediatricians screen obese children for high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension.
The recommendations are more aggressive than previous AAP recommendations issued in 2007. It focuses on treating obesity intensively rather than in stages, according to Sarah Hampl, a pediatrician at Children's Mercy Kansas City in Kansas City, Missouri.
In the United States, obesity is on the rise. According to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, approximately one-fifth of children in the United States are obese.
During the pandemic, the rate of increase in body mass index, a screening tool used by doctors to detect excess body fat, more than doubled among young children and adolescents.