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New Obesity Screening Recommendations for Adolescents

New Obesity Screening Recommendations for Adolescents

Research shows that about one in three children and adolescents are currently overweight or obese. Children are considered obese if they have a Body Mass Index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile for their age and sex. Childhood and adolescent obesity can cause health problems such as asthma, hypertension and sleep apnea. And if steps aren’t taken to improve these young patients’ health, greater health problems — such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease — can develop in adulthood.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recently re-examined this issue and posted new evidence and recommendations on screening for obesity in children and adolescents. Based on its evidence review, the USPSTF recommends screening for obesity in children and adolescents ages 6-18 and offering or referring patients who are diagnosed with obesity to comprehensive, intensive behavioral interventions to promote improvements in weight status. Interventions should include at least 26 contact hours (some sessions should target both the child and parent), offering information on healthy eating and safe exercise, and the use of stimulus control such as limiting access to tempting food and screen time.

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