Surgery and medication advised for some children with obesity in US

Anti-obesity drugs now advised for some children in US

New US guidelines say that children with obesity should be treated early – with options including medication and surgery.

Released on Monday, the guidance – the first of its kind in 15 years – was put out by the American Academy of Paediatrics.

The organisation said that childhood obesity is a disease influenced by genetic, social and environmental factors – not individual or lifestyle choices. As a result, it says, it should not be stigmatised by health care providers.

It calls on behavioural and lifestyle changes as the first-line approach to combat childhood obesity.

But the new guidelines also recommend against treatment delays in favour of waiting. For the first time ever, it says that medication can be prescribed to children from 12 year old. It also says weight loss surgery can be offered to those 13 years old and above.

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Holistic approach

Dr Ihuoma Eneli, co-author of the new guidance, told the Associated Press that ‘waiting doesn’t work’. Instead, there is a ‘continuation of weight gain’ and the likelihood that they will be obese in adulthood.

The guidelines push a holistic approach to treatment. Medications and surgery are only recommended when behavioural treatment, such as lifestyle changes, do not have an impact.

One in five children and teens in the US are currently living with obesity, according the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity rates have continued to rise over the past decade and a half, increasing from 17% to 20%.

Greater the risk

This comes as research shows a clear link between obesity and tooth loss.

The study, which involved more than 200,000 people, confirmed that the higher the BMI, the greater the risk of tooth loss.

The cross-sectional research examined BMI, tooth retention, tooth location and age.

It found that the higher the BMI, the greater the risk of tooth loss – especially for adults over 40 years old.

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