Purgatory Chasm

Growing Gaps in Pediatric Obesity Care

As the prevalence of severe childhood obesity continues to grow, the gap in resources and guidelines for pediatric obesity care is reaching a crisis. In Clinical Obesity this month, Timothy Nissen and colleagues published an analysis of the evidence for current pediatric obesity guidelines. They found existing guidelines are out of date. The evidence supporting them is of low quality. The quality of methods and reporting behind existing guidelines “is deficient,” they conclude:

Low quality scores and dated guidelines should be a cause for concern among practicing clinicians and a call to action for future guideline developers, publishers and research institutions.

Almost simultaneously, the Endocrine Society published an updated clinical practice guideline for pediatric obesity that echoed the need for better evidence:

Despite a significant increase in research on pediatric obesity since the initial publication of these guidelines 8 years ago, further study is needed of the genetic and biological factors that increase the risk of weight gain and influence the response to therapeutic interventions.

Approximately five million children and adolescents in the U.S. now suffer from severe obesity and the prevalence is continuing to grow. The evidence for benefits from bariatric surgery in older teens is growing. But we need more options, especially for younger kids.

Even more, we need resources to apply the knowledge we already have. The health and lives of these children, so deeply affected, hang in the balance. Too few programs exist to deliver the care they need. Click the image on the right for a list of 35 such programs in the U.S.

Three years ago, the American Heart Association and the Obesity Society jointly issued a call to meet this challenge. It’s time to redouble our efforts.

Click here for the analysis by Nissen et al and here for the new guidelines from the Endocrine Society.

Purgatory Chasm, photograph © Brian Fisk / flickr

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February 7, 2017