Obesity screening has been recommended for children and teens aged from 6 to 18 by the USPSTF (US Preventive Services Task Force) in a document published on 20th June 2017. It was recommended that those who are diagnosed with obesity should also be offered or referred to behavioural interventions to promote improvements in their weight.
The interventions recommended by the task force include sessions for both the child and the parents. They should involve a minimum of 26 patient contact hours and offer information about safe exercise and healthy eating. They can incorporate discussions regarding the use of stimulus control, for example, limiting access to foods that are tempting. Supervised physical activity can also be part of the intervention.
According to Science Daily, around 17 per cent of children in the US between the ages of two and nineteen are obese and 32 per cent are overweight. In the UK, NHS figures show that a growing number of four and five year old children are also becoming obese. Childhood obesity can be linked to mental health issues, obstructive sleep apnoea, high blood pressure, asthma and many other health problems. Children can also be subjected to bullying and teasing due to their excessive weight. If obesity continues into adulthood they may suffer from type 2 diabetes or cardiovascular problems.
Obesity in children and teens is one of the research topics studied by organisations such as Richmond Pharmacology. Many people are employed in research units through companies such as https://www.access-sciencejobs.uk/companies/764/richmond-pharmacology.
The Evidence Review
The evidence on screening for obesity in teens and children was examined by the USPSTF, and the benefits and drawbacks of different weight management interventions were also examined. The review did not include obesity prevention for children whose weight was within normal parameters.
BMI screening was found to be an adequate screening method for identifying children and adolescents with obesity. Those with a BMI that is at or above the 95th percentile for children of their gender and age were considered to be obese.
42 behavioural intervention trials were reviewed and eight were found to be of good quality, with the remaining 34 being classified as fair quality. In most cases, participants maintained their current weight within 5 pounds but grew in height. Excess weight was effectively reduced after 6 to 12 months.