Children obesity a public health crisis says UW Medicine

Obesity in children has become a public health crisis and is not getting better, said Dr. Brian Johnston, chief of pediatrics at Harborview Medical Center.

The CDC found that over 14 million children and teens aged 2 to 19 were obese in the U.S. from 2017 to 2020.

That’s 20% of children in the country, said UW Medicine.

“I think we’ve reached a point now where this public health crisis is not getting better, and we’re seeing the long-term effects of untreated obesity in children,” said Johnston. “This is a complicated interaction between genes and environments, and it doesn’t reflect a child who’s unable or unwilling to make the changes they need to make in order to stay at a healthy weight.”

A study published in JAMA Pediatrics on Feb. 13 proved that better school lunches led to a small but significant decline in the body mass index of students aged 5 to 18.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recently published new guidelines for treating childhood obesity. The guidelines state that medications and bariatric surgery are tools that doctors can consider for the treatment of severe obesity.

Johnston said that family lifestyle changes can be effective first steps to treating children obesity.

“That is behavior change and helping families with healthy eating, making good nutritional choices, and building physical activity into their daily lives,” said Johnston.

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