Children with obesity should start counseling from age 6, US panel recommends

We know that obesity has become a huge problem in the past two decades because of the fact that our lifestyles have become so different from the way they were prior to that and also the addition of our diets which now include mostly junk food which contains a lot of sugar as well as consisting of mostly carbohydrates which does not give us a proper diet full of proteins and fibres. Due to this reason, we are seeing that the majority of the children are now suffering from obesity whereas those who did not have such a lifestyle in their childhood are now getting obese in their adulthood.

The government-backed U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) had recommended in 2017 that screening for obesity start at age 6. Research since then has shown the effectiveness of intensive behavioral interventions – defined as at least 26 hours of counseling with one or more health professionals – for achieving a healthy weight and improving the quality of life for children and adolescents, the panel said. The recommendation did not specify a timeframe.

The new USPSTF advice does not address using medications such as Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy, which is approved for children age 12 and above, or surgery. The Task Force said it reviewed evidence on weight loss medications but found that more research is needed to understand the long-term health outcomes for medications fully. The behavioral interventions would comprise “a package” that includes physical activity, support for behavior change, and education about healthy eating, said task force member Dr. Katrina Donahue of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

But the panel’s review of data from 58 randomized controlled trials involving more than 10,000 children found that these interventions work, “as long as the child receives a total of at least 26 hours of contact with professionals,” Donahue said. The USPSTF assigned a “grade B” to the evidence favoring the intensive interventions, meaning there is high certainty the interventions would have at least a moderate benefit. Children in the trials lost an average of 4 to 6.5 pounds (2 to 3 kilograms), with reductions maintained for at least one year. Obesity in children and adolescents through age 19 is defined as having a body mass index – a ratio of weight to height – higher than 95% of youngsters of the same age and gender.

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