A new treatment for childhood obesity is on the way.
The American Academy of Pediatrics said the changes will include nutrition support and increased physical activity for children as young as two.
For teens, this could also include medication and possibly even surgery.
Childhood obesity is a big problem. The Centers for Disease Control said nearly 20% of kids in the United States, ages 2 to 19, carry too much weight.
Registered dietician Susan Smith Holland believes the solution starts with diet and exercise.
“I know it makes a difference what we encourage and what we teach when they’re younger,” Smith Holland said.
She knows because she weighed more than she should have as a child so she decided at 10 years old to eat healthily and exercise regularly.
And she made it her life’s work.
“So I am very passionate about trying to change things and help other people also avoid those unnecessary diseases, unnecessary surgeries,” Smith Holland said. “To me, unnecessary medication and surgeries are what we’re talking about here.”
Unnecessary is the American Association of Pediatrics’ new guidelines to Smith Holland.
They suggest obese children should be treated early and aggressively, even putting kids as young as 12 on medication for a lifetime or going as far as a 13-year-old child having weight loss surgery.
Dr. Sandra Hassink, a co-author of the guidelines, said obesity is more than fatness. Without early treatment, obese children become obese adults.
Some critics believe medication and surgery goes too far.
“Well, how could you not? If you have treatment, that works and you have a chronic disease? Like, do you want your doctors to stand there and watch this when we have treatment? No,” Hassink said.
The treatments don’t come without the recommendation of a healthy diet and daily exercise but Hassink said for some kids, weight is hard to shed.
So the goal of the guidelines? Let people know it’s an option for them, if it’s right for them.