Childhood obesity in the U.S. has grown significantly over the years.Â Approximately 17% (or 12.7 million) of children and adolescents aged 2 -19 years are obese.Â According to American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry’s “Obesity in Children & Teens“, overweight teens are much more likely to become overweight adults. If one parent is obese, there is a 50% chance that their children will be obese.Â When both parents are obese that percentage increases to 80%!Â Because of this growth trend in teen obesity, there has been an uptick in the number of pediatric – adult affiliated weight loss programsÂ at centers across the country.Â This type of program allows the teen to continue theirÂ weight loss programÂ into adult life.
How is teen obesity managed and treated?
AÂ thorough medical evaluation of the teenÂ is needed to make sure that there is not a physical cause for the excess weight gainÂ and this can be an evaluationÂ performed by the teen’s own Pediatrician or Family Doctor. Without any physical cause, the next step is to get the teen on a program that includes nutrition guidance,Â education on mindful eating, calorieÂ controlÂ and increased physical activity.
A weight loss program for teenagersÂ mayÂ be similarÂ to this:
- An initial evaluationÂ for the teen is scheduledÂ with a Doctor,Â Registered DietitianÂ and Psychologist that all specialize in weight management.
- A decision is made on the number of program visits needed for the teen. For example it may be 7 or 8Â visits, starting with the evaluation.
- Each program visit with the Doctor andÂ Dietitian may focus on something specific:
- Nutrition education.
- Guidance for eating outside the home.
- Guidance on snacks and drink choices.
- Physical activity/exercise.
- Reducing TV, phone and other electronic device usage.
- Mindful eating guidance.
- Time scheduled with Psychologist (if needed).
- Parent/caretaker participation.
- There may be a reassessment at the last program visit,Â which may include a comprehensive meeting with the teen, parent/caretaker, Doctor andÂ Dietitian to review theÂ teen’s progress.Â At this meeting there may be discussions of available options for additional weight management or support.Â Options discussed may include:
- Additional nutrition plans, pharmacological intervention as well asÂ surgery options.
- AdditionalÂ intermittent meetings with the weight center team members who specialize in maintenance plans and support.
- On line interactive tools which encourage teens to take responsibility for their own health &Â encourages mindful eating behavior.Â Parents can log on and check the teen’s progress too.
- Teen weightÂ management forums which allow teenagers to connect withÂ each otherÂ on topics like weight lossÂ successes/struggles, nutritional recipes, as well as, general thoughts and feelings.
Over the past 35 years, obesity ratesÂ have doubled and the average American is 24 lbs heavier today than in 1960.Â Childhood obesity rates have tripled since 1980.Â More and more adult weight lossÂ centers are including programs for overweight and obese children and teens.Â Adding a child or adolescent weight loss program to a medically supervised weight loss center is a progressive, lucrative move.
Manufacturers of nutritional weight loss productsÂ are now addressing the need to develop meal plans withÂ kid friendly products that are specifically designed for the needs of overweight children and adolescents.
Find out more aboutÂ nutritional weight loss products for use in your practice or clinic by downloading our FREEÂ information guide.Â
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- Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry “Obesity in Children & Teens”
- Cover image by Pixabay