Obesity is not exclusive to adults. The Obesity Action Coalition reports that more than 30 percent of children in America are affected by obesity, making it the most common chronic disease of childhood. It’s a number that has more than tripled since 1980, and the risk factors don’t stop there.
Childhood and adolescent obesity often comes with the same obesity-related conditions that plague adults affected by the disease, such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension and sleep apnea. Recent data from the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery shows that up to 80 percent of children and adolescents affected by obesity will continue to be affected by obesity into adulthood if left unattended. Childhood obesity is reaching epidemic proportion, and its affects are concerning.
Although the causes of childhood obesity are widespread, certain factors are considered to be major contributors to this epidemic:
- Lack of physical activity
- Heredity and family
- Dietary patterns
The Impact of Obesity on Our Youths
Obesity impacts children in a variety of ways and opens the door to a wide variety of health issues that most of us don’t experience until middle age, if at all. Aside from the health implications, children who are affected by obesity could face weight bias and bullying, which could lead to mental health issues like low self-esteem, eating disorders and depression.
How We Measure Obesity in Children and Adolescents
Weight status in children and adolescents is most often determined using BMI-for-age percentiles. This method calculates a child’s weight category based on his or her age and body mass index, which is a calculation of weight and height. In addition to BMI physicians consider co-morbidities, or the presence of additional disease(s), along with the potential long-term health risks associated with untreated obesity when determining a pediatric patient’s appropriateness for bariatric surgery. It is important to keep in mind that any method for measuring obesity should be used only as a tool and should be administered by a physician who is qualified to determine and diagnose a child’s weight status.
How We Treat Childhood and Adolescent Obesity
Treating obesity in children and adolescents can differ from treatment in adults, largely because the family support dynamic is key with the younger patient. Involving the family in a child’s weight management program as a support system helps ensure weight management goals will be met.
Often times, parents recognize that their child is overweight or obese but they don’t know what to do about the condition. It is important to talk with a physician about options for treating childhood obesity. The various obesity treatments for children and adolescents include:
- Diet and behavior changes
- Implementation of an exercise program to promote physical activity
- Bariatric surgery
Why Bariatric Surgery?
Although treatments such as behavioral and lifestyle modifications may work for the majority of children affected by obesity, there are children affected by severe obesity who experience greater improvement in their health and quality of life through bariatric surgery.
Bariatric surgery has been shown to produce long-lasting weight loss and improvement in many obesity-related conditions in both adults and children. Currently, the most common surgical weight loss procedures being performed in children affected by severe obesity are the Roux-en-y gastric bypass, laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding and sleeve gastrectomy.
The goal of bariatric surgery at Lee Bariatrics is to provide the greatest benefit possible with the lowest risk. Our staff performs a thorough evaluation of a child’s circumstances and health condition before making a treatment recommendation of bariatric surgery. Both patient and family are integral parts of the treatment decision making. Together, we work to promote your healthier life at any age.
Call us today at 1-888-225-9514 for more information about conquering childhood obesity and getting a personalized weight-loss plan started.
The above is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the medical guidance from and discussion with your physician.