CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The American Academy of Pediatrics has released new guidance on childhood obesity. It allows for weight-loss surgery for kids as young as 13.
According to the latest data from the CDC, almost 20% of kids and teens ages 2 to 19 are obese. That's about 14.7 million children.
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According to the CDC, 12% of kids two to five are clinically obese, and it only gets worse from there, with 20% of kids six to eleven suffering from obesity.
"This is something that's kind of accumulated over the years, and the percentages just keep moving up," Johnson said.
Johnson said before the guidelines, there wasn't a set structure to deal with childhood obesity.
"From a general pediatrics perspective to kind of have it all in one place laid out, like, hey, here are, here's the standard kind of standard of care, the guidelines for what I'm supposed to do when I'm communicating with families," Johnson said.
The new guidelines recommend initial interventions requiring upward of 26 hours over three to twelve months of intense in-person behavior and lifestyle treatment, which include coaching on nutrition, physical activity, and changes in behavior. AAP states this approach should be used for kids six and older but could be used for those as young as two.
After intensive therapy, the AAP states weight loss drugs should be considered for adolescents as young as 12 years old and 13 years old with severe obesity should be evaluated for weight loss surgery.
"It used to be 16 years old enough that we would consider bariatric surgery as an option. And now they're saying 13-year-old years old and up; there's really not much to be gained by waiting those extra years. If what you're doing isn't working, you could go ahead and be more aggressive," Johnson said.
Johnson said medication and surgery would be used in extreme cases, and families need to speak with their doctors to figure out what's best for their children.
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