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Asian, family and vegetables for playing in kitchen for portrait at table, happy or together. Mom, dad and child with smile in home at counter for health, food or nutrition in diet, dinner or cookingThe American Academy of Pediatrics has just released new guidelines for treating childhood obesity for the first time in 15 years.

Childhood obesity is a known issue in America, and rates have been steadily rising over the last ten and a half and are now up to 20%, according to the CDC. This increase means that 1 in 5 children struggle with childhood obesity and the health repercussions that accompany childhood obesity. Obesity currently affects 15 million children and adolescents in America today.

It is cause to be concerned considering that childhood obesity also contributes to more cases of Type 2 diabetes, higher blood pressure and mental health issues. The COVID-19 pandemic also seems to have been a significant factor for increased childhood obesity numbers during 2020.

The new guidelines provided by the American Academy of Pediatrics emphasize the complexity of childhood obesity, stating that it is not a simple issue and cannot be treated with a simple fix. Obesity is considered a chronic condition and must be treated as such. The primary approaches are intensive lifestyle and behavioral changes, as the previous guidelines also suggested, but are now followed by anti-obesity medications and surgery options. The suggested initial approach for children with this condition is to work with a pediatrician to determine appropriate lifestyle and behavioral changes.

For adolescents experiencing obesity, behavioral and lifestyle changes are still incredibly important, but there are also some medication and surgery recommendations for the first time ever. The most common belief in the past has been that those struggling with obesity are suffering solely due to diet and exercise, but more recently we have learned that genetics and hormones play a large role in obesity and overall weight and cannot be ignored as factors. New medications have been created to target these issues and help stabilize insulin levels to try and combat childhood obesity.

While it is an improvement to have updated guidelines that include the new drug options, it is important to consider the overall picture. Lifestyle changes and mental health should be included in any treatment plan. Be sure to provide children with plenty of fun physical activity and increase servings of fruits and vegetables to encourage a healthy diet.

If you have a child struggling with childhood obesity, don’t feel like you have to figure it out on your own. Let’s talk. We want your child to be happy and healthy just as much as you do! That’s why our care is always compassionate and reliable. Our practitioners have a legacy of combined experience in pediatric medicine, child development and parenting education.