Childhood Obesity

New Pediatric Obesity Treatment Guidelines Recommend Early, Intensive Treatment

Jessica Ganga

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued its first guideline in 15 years on the treatment of childhood obesity in children and adolescents.

In the United States, approximately 14.4 million children and adolescents are affected by obesity, according to the guidelines, which makes it one of the most common chronic diseases in the pediatric population.

“Because obesity is a chronic disease with escalating effects over time, a life course approach to identification and treatment should begin as early as possible and continue longitudinally through childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood, with transition into adult care,” the authors write in their updated guidelines.

In response, the group of pediatricians and experts devised a set of guidelines and consensus recommendatios that provide clinicians with treatment options and recommendations for managing childhood obesity. The treatment options, as described in the guidelines, should be offered early on. For example, one of the consensus recommendations noted that pediatricians “may offer children ages 8 through 11 years of age with obesity weight loss pharmacotherapy, according to medication indications, risks, and benefits, as an adjunct to health behavior and lifestyle treatment.”

Additionally, the guidelines make recommendations for pediatricians and primary health care practitioners on:

  • Evaluating a patient with overweight or obesity and what to consider when making an evaluation
  • How to build multidisciplinary collaborations
  • The use of BMI to screen pediatric patients and how to communicate the BMI status to the patient and their parents
  • The use of motivational interviewing to counsel the patient and motivate changes
  • The use of pediatric metabolic and bariatric surgery for the most severe cases of childhood obesity and how to know whether a patient is eligible

“Pediatricians and other PHCPs now have more evidence-based tools than ever before that support obesity treatment that is effective, provides ongoing health benefits, supports children and families longitudinally, and reduces potential harms for disordered eating,” the authors concluded. “In contrast to previous recommendations, these clinical guidelines highlight the urgency of providing immediate, intensive obesity treatment to each patient as soon as they receive the diagnosis of obesity.”



Hampl SE, Hassink SG, Skinner AC, et al. Clinical practice guideline for the evaluation and treatment of children and adolescents with obesity. Pediatrics. Published online January 9, 2023. doI:10.1542/peds.2022-060640