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AAP Releases New Guidelines for Treating Childhood Obesity

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recently released new comprehensive guidelines for treating childhood obesity, a chronic disease that affects nearly one in five children in the United States. The guidelines advise pediatricians to offer more intensive interventions, including medications and bariatric surgery, for adolescents with a body mass index (BMI) at or above the 85th percentile for their age and sex.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends a “whole child” approach that takes into consideration multiple factors that can influence one’s chances of developing obesity and the effectiveness of treatment. These include individual and familial risks as well as systemic inequalities that might contribute to obesity and impede successful treatment. To ensure the best outcome for young people with obesity, the AAP recommends that healthcare professionals consider the child’s family system, health status, community status, and resources to develop a child-centered, evidence-based treatment plan.

The guidelines recommend lifestyle intervention as a core component of childhood obesity treatment, in addition to medications and metabolic and bariatric surgery. Diet is another crucial factor and processed, unhealthy foods are often more accessible to families than healthy foods.[0] The AAP also recommends that healthcare providers offer referrals for metabolic and bariatric surgery evaluation to adolescents 13 years and older with a BMI at or above 120% of the 95th percentile.

Unfortunately, the guidelines do not offer guidance on obesity prevention, which will be addressed in another forthcoming policy statement.[1] It is important to acknowledge the harmful effects of weight bias and stigma and emphasize that there is no place for blame or guilt about body shape or size.[2]

The AAP guideline is an important step forward in recognizing childhood obesity as a disease that requires treatment and evaluation. However, it is unclear whether the recommendations will adequately address paediatric obesity, and it is important that any solutions are accompanied by behavioral and lifestyle changes from the child.[3]

0. “Student Opinion: New Guidelines Suggest Anti-Obesity Drugs and Surgery for Children” The People’s Vanguard of Davis, 22 Jan. 2023,

1. “New AAP Guidelines Advise Immediate, Intensive Treatment for Children with Obesity | HealthNews”, 24 Jan. 2023,

2. “What is obesity and when do children need medical treatment?” Daily Herald, 22 Jan. 2023,

3. “US childhood obesity guidelines may rush the use of drugs or surgery” New Scientist, 27 Jan. 2023,

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