The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) called for the aggressive medical treatment of childhood obesity, including with surgery and medication, in its latest guidance.
Obese children as young as 12 should be considered for medication, and surgery should be on the table at age 13, the AAP recommended, arguing that continued obesity will lead to detrimental lifelong consequences including diabetes and high blood pressure. The guidance marks a shift away from the watchful waiting approach in which medical professionals give children time to outgrow obesity before implementing pharmaceutical and surgical interventions.
The guidance represents the AAP’s official position, a spokesman confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“Waiting doesn’t work,” said Dr. Ihuoma Eneli, co-author of the guidance, told The Associated Press. “What we see is a continuation of weight gain and the likelihood that they’ll have (obesity) in adulthood.” (RELATED: US Army Plans To Create A Fat Camp For Overweight, Out Of Shape Recruits)
The @AmerAcadPeds‘ first clinical practice guideline on obesity advises early, intensive care that focuses on ‘whole child’ https://t.co/dNYetBlH6A
📷 Courtesy of Duke Healthy Lifestyles and Bull City Fit Program pic.twitter.com/tpV1dVXb6I
— AAP News (@AAPNews) January 9, 2023
The guidance recommends that, in additions to health and lifestyle changes, medical professionals should consider drugs as well as metabolic and bariatric surgeries. This surgical category includes gastric bypass, the partial removal of the stomach through a duodenal switch procedure, gastric banding and gastrectomy.
AAP experts suggested obesity is largely unrelated to lifestyle choices and is primarily driven by natural or biological causes. The guidance is meant to dispel the notion that obesity is “a personal problem, maybe a failure of the person’s diligence,” Dr. Sandra Hassink, medical director for the AAP Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight and a co-author of the guidelines, told the AP.
“This is not different than you have asthma and now we have an inhaler for you,” she said.
About 20% of American children and adolescents are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control, more than tripling since 1970. The new guidance comes days after the Food and Drug Administration approved a new obesity drug, Wegovy, for children aged 12 and up.
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