Navigating Adolescence is Hard Enough. Doing it with Excess Weight is Even Harder. Our Adolescents Need and Want our Help.
Many healthcare practitioners fear that addressing weight with children and adolescents will increase their risk of developing an eating disorder. The American Academy of Pediatrics addressed this in their most recent consensus statement, stating that “there is no evidence to support either watchful waiting or unnecessary delay of appropriate treatment of children with obesity. Multiple studies have demonstrated that, although obesity and self-guided dieting place children at high risk for weight fluctuation and disordered eating patterns, participation in structured, supervised weight management programs decreases current and future eating disorder symptoms (including bulimic symptoms, emotional eating, binge eating, and drive for thinness) up to 6 years after treatment.”
Adolescents have access to unlimited information (and misinformation). If we don’t help them, they will find a solution on their own. Who do you want to entrust your child’s health with? A healthcare provider with advanced training in Obesity Medicine or a social media influencer?
TREAT or REFER: The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that children struggling with obesity should be provided a structured, intensive behavior and lifestyle treatment. If pediatricians and other primary care providers are unable to provide these services, they should refer them to clinicians who can. They define this treatment as being time-intensive and one in which clinicians approach weight management using a family-centered, non-stigmatizing approach. As an adjunct to an intensive lifestyle treatment, the AAP recommends that healthcare providers should offer pharmacotherapy and/or metabolic and bariatric surgery according to indications, risks, and benefits.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE: At Heartland Weight Loss, we use a whole-person approach to help our patients develop healthier lifestyles and improve their mental health and quality of life. Weight loss typically occurs as a result of these changes. Families and caregivers must be involved for adolescents to make lasting changes in their eating habits and exercise habits.
OBESITY OFTEN COEXISTS WITH OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS: Children and adolescents struggling with pre-obesity and obesity are at significant risk of also having prediabetes, diabetes, fatty liver, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends screening children with excess weight over the age of 10 for laboratory abnormalities and treating the excess weight and comorbidities concurrently.