EUCLID, Ohio — Doctors are calling obesity an epidemic for children across the U.S. That’s why the American Association of pediatrics now recommends more aggressive treatments, younger.
“I think these guidelines were long overdue,” said Dr. Marine Walston, medical director, Healthy Active Living Program at Akron Children’s Hospital.
One of those treatments is weight loss medication for teens. Just last month the drug, Wegovy, was approved by the FDA for use in children 12 and up. Doctors say a variety of diabetes drugs result in weightloss in teens.
“What they do is they are targeting our insulin production and our bodies' response to insulin and also help with hunger and societal or feeling of fullness,” Walston added.
Another treatment option is surgery, which doctors say is not often the first choice unless the patient is at risk for more serious health conditions and complications.
“We know there are some children who will work very hard at behavior and lifestyle treatments, and perhaps even try medication, and they are still not able to lose a significant amount of weight,” Walston said. "These are kids who are at risk of having other medical problems and it's affecting their quality of life. So, for those kids, surgery can be an incredible treatment option and tool to help them change their life.”
At little Giants Gym in Euclid, trainers work to encourage early prevention. Head trainer Michael Blue said the statistic that one in five Cleveland children is fighting obesity must change.
“We’re at a place now where kids are so technology driven,” said Blue. “They rather not do the things that make them uncomfortable. They rather sweat in the video game then sweat in real life.”
At the gym, kids' workout by boxing, dancing, weightlifting, and cardio.
“There is a difference in actively physically participating in something, and sitting down on the sideline, moving your thumbs,” Blue said.
The AAP guidelines reveal behavioral and lifestyle treatment as young as 6-years-old is equally as important as aggressive treatment options.
“I think we got be careful when the first thing we say is let’s throw them on this medication,” Blue added. “Let’s talk about eating right, let’s talk about a consistent workout regimen. Let’s talk about creating a healthy environment.”
Blue trains kids as young as 5 years old and says above all, fighting obesity stems from a place of love.
“I think once we establish something from the beginning, they have a lifelong tool they can use to add health and value to their lives but help other people too,” Blue said.
The new guidelines do not discuss obesity prevention. The American Academy of Pediatrics said that the policy statement will be addressed later.
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