US Health Panel urges intensive counseling for obese children at age 6

Visual Representation of Obesity in children | Credits: Freepik
Visual Representation of Obesity in children | Credits: Freepik

United States: A panel of US experts has drafted a recommendation emphasizing the fact that obese children must receive intensive counseling at the age of 6 years, according to Reuters. This practice will promote healthy diet and exercise habits among the children.

Priorly, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) – a government-backed organization, shared a similar suggestion back in 2017. Since then, different research has been conducted, which has shown effectiveness.

According to the panel, Reuters noted around 26 hours of counseling can assist in achieving a healthy weight and improved lifestyle for children and adolescents. However, the recommendation did not specify a timeframe.

Visual Representation of Obesity in children | Credits: Freepik

In addition to this, the new advice does not support the usage of medication and surgery. As of now, Novo Nordisk’s (NOVOb.CO) Wegovy is an approved medication for children aged 12 and above.

Further, the Task Force mentioned that currently, there is no evidence on the medications for weight loss, but continued study will help in understanding the relationship between medicine and obesity.

What are the remarks by Task Force members?

One of the Task Force members, who is from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine – Dr Katrina Donahue, stated that the above-mentioned recommendation is “a package” that will comprise physical activity, support for behavior change, and information exchange about healthy eating.

She furthermore highlighted that the package may work differently for different regions because of variations in local resources.

In regard to the 26 hours, Donahue stated that the data received after surveying over 10,000 children for around 58 randomized controlled trials has revealed that all interventions work “as long as the child receives a total of at least 26 hours of contact with professionals.”

The experts of USPSTF gave a good grade to the idea of trying hard to help. They are sure that it can help kids lose around 4 to 6.5 pounds (2 to 3 kilograms), at least in a whole year. Obesity in children and adolescents, until the age of 19, is examined with the help of a body mass index, and if a child’s index is above 95 percent, then he/she falls under the obese category.

Visual Representation of Body Mass Index | Credits: Freepik

As per the stats shared by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in five American children and teens fall in the category.

Green flag from the American Academy of Pediatrics

Reuters has underscored that the American Academy of Pediatrics has also recommended at least 26 or more hours of “face-to-face, family-based, multicomponent treatment over a 3- to 12-month period.”

According to the reports, the recommendation from the USPSTF will be available for comments by the general public through January 16.

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