ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – In an effort to curb serious health problems related to childhood obesity, the American Academy of Pediatrics has released guidelines on evaluating and treating obese children and teens. Dr. Gilberto Heredia, a family physician doctor with Optum New Mexico, talked about what is being done to combat the growing trend of obesity.

The AAP recommends the following for physicians on how to evaluate children and teens for obesity:

  • Comprehensive obesity treatment may include nutrition support, physical activity treatment, behavioral therapy, pharmacotherapy, and metabolic and bariatric surgery.
  • Intensive health behavior and lifestyle treatment (IHBLT), while challenging to deliver and not universally available, is the most effective known behavioral treatment for child obesity. The most effective treatments include 26 or more hours of face-to-face, family-based, multicomponent treatment over a 3- to 12-month period.
  • Evidence-based treatment delivered by trained healthcare professionals with an active parent or caregiver involvement has no evidence of harm and can result in less disordered eating.
  • Physicians should offer adolescents ages 12 years and older with obesity weight loss pharmacotherapy, according to medication indications, risks, and benefits, as an adjunct to health behavior and lifestyle treatment.
  • Teens age 13 and older with severe obesity (BMI ≥120% of the 95th percentile for age and sex) should be evaluated for metabolic and bariatric surgery.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one in five children in the U.S. are considered obese. In New Mexico, about 29% of kindergarten students and 36% of third-grade students are overweight or obese, according to body mass index (BMI) collections of about 7,400 students across New Mexico in 2019 and published in a comprehensive report on childhood obesity in 2020.

Optum New Mexico is a local physician-led, multi-specialty medical group. The group offers comprehensive healthcare services backed by over 20 medical and surgical specialties and 11 locations throughout Albuquerque, Rio Rancho and Los Lunas.