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Reuters: US panel recommends children with obesity start counseling from age 6

By Nancy Lapid

Children with obesity should receive intensive counseling to promote healthy diet and exercise habits starting at age 6, according to a draft recommendation issued by a panel of U.S. experts.

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 the use of medications such as Novo Nordisk's (NOVOb.CO) 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 fully understand the long-term health outcomes for medications.

Guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also support lifestyle support including 26 or more hours of "face-to-face, family-based, multicomponent treatment over a 3- to 12-month period."

But the AAP has advised pediatricians to offer weight-loss drugs for children age 12 and up with obesity and referral for evaluation for metabolic and bariatric surgery for adolescents age 13 and older with severe obesity.

Dr. Sarah Hampl of Children's Mercy Kansas City and the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine, a spokesperson for the AAP who was not involved in the USPSTF guideline, noted that many factors contribute to childhood obesity, including socioecological, environmental, and genetic influences, and treatment should include identifying and addressing as many of these risk factors as possible.


Read the full article via Reuters

Children's Mercy Weight Management Program