It’s well known that childhood obesity is an issue in western societies..
Around 17% of 2-19 year old’s in the U.S are obese and the percentage of severely obese children is on the rise. The health effects of obesity are well known but a large concern for childhood obesity is the associated continued obesity into adulthood. A systematic review in 2015 put this at a staggering 80%. Aside form the physical impacts of obesity there are the psychological issues around self-esteem, bullying and a reduced quality of life compared to normal weight youths. Evidently something must be done to combat this ‘epidemic’.
A new review has suggested that screening children would be an effective way of kick starting a reduction in obesity rates. The review then goes on to suggest at least 26 hours of behavioral interventions targeted towards lifestyle-based weight management is needed to combat childhood obesity. 4 specific areas of intervention are suggested: dietary modification, increasing energy expenditure, family involvement and behavior change techniques (such as goal setting). All 4 areas are targeted at life-long good habit formation with the focus on self-management.
There is a stark contrast in the report as there is also a large focus on pharmacological management including the use of metformin. Thankfully drug management is advised to be used in conjunction with other forms of weight loss and only when behavioural modification has failed.
Overall there was no direct evidence to suggest harms in screening children for obesity and that 26 hours was the time frame of intervention to aim for. However screening children for obesity could potentially be a social minefield.
What do you think, should all children be screened? Let us know via the usual channels.