Screen kids 6 and up for obesity
The US Preventive Services Task Force encourages physicians and other medical professionals to screen all children age six and older for obesity. Any obese children should be referred to comprehensive weight management programs, a preventive measure that, according to more than a dozen studies, can successfully help those children to maintain and improve their weight.
While there is currently a shortage of weight-management programs, and many insurance companies don’t cover them as a benefit, experts hope that now that recent studies show how effective the programs are, things may improve. Almost 20% of children between the ages of 6 and 11 are obese and 18% of children age 12 to 19 are obese. These children are at a high risk for health problems ranging from diabetes to high blood pressure or cholesterol.
Medical professionals who work with obese children applaud the recommendation as necessary. They also encourage parents to be actively involved in any weight-management program. “Part of the problem is that where there are obese children, there are often obese parents . . . parents often have to take a hard look at their own eating styles and how they may have morphed into less-than-healthy role models,” says Keith Ayoob, associate professor of Pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. If the entire family can be involved, it’s likely that the benefit will extend beyond one child. “A whole family can get healthier when one child does.”