Battling Obesity in Teens: Groundbreaking Guidelines for Children


ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Ivanhoe Newswire) – More than 14 million children and teenagers in the U.S. are living with obesity – it’s a chronic disease associated with a lifetime of health risks. That’s why for the first time ever, The American Academy of Pediatrics, or AAP, has released groundbreaking guidelines on treating children battling obesity. Obesity in teens.

At a time when Harley Boaz should be having the time of her life, her life was literally being put at risk – at 16, Harley weighed 285 pounds.

“I was diagnosed with hypertension. I was prediabetic. I had high cholesterol,” Harley says.

A new study by the CDC warns that type 2 diabetes will surge 700 percent in people under the age of 20 in the next 40 years. New guidelines by the AAP is hoping to revolutionize the way we approach childhood obesity.

“It says we should offer all of our treatments as soon as a patient is eligible for them,” mentions pediatric endocrinologist at Washington University in St. Louis, Dr. Jennifer Sprague.

(Read Full Interview)

Dr. Sprague says, for the first time, doctors have a roadmap on how to treat these children.

“It highlights that a ‘watch and wait’ strategy is not effective,” she adds.

The AAP guidelines include evidence-based recommendations such as motivational interviewing to behavior treatments and pharmaceuticals like the newly FDA-approved Wegovy – the first once-weekly weight loss injection approved for kids 12 and up.

Dr. Sprague tells Ivanhoe, “They can make a really huge difference in patients’ lives.”

Studies show, 95 percent of teens with type 2 diabetes who had bariatric surgery no longer had it three years following surgery, and 74 percent normalized their high blood pressure.

“I think there’s always hope that if you treat this disease, you’re gonna lessen the long-term consequences,” Dr. Sprague expresses.

The new guidelines also urges pediatricians to take into account genetics, physiology, socioeconomic factors and the environment – stressing obesity is not just about weight, it’s a complex issue that requires a comprehensive and personalized treatment plan.

Contributors to this news report include: Marsha Lewis, Producer; Roque Correa, Videographer & Editor.

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REPORT:        MB #5256

BACKGROUND: In recent years, the issue of childhood obesity has climbed to new heights. Approximately 17% of children and adolescents are obese. Unfortunately, due to poor dietary habits and an absence of exercise, over 300,000 lives are claimed every year from obesity. Obesity generally begins between the ages of 5 and 6, or during the stage of adolescence. Children who are obese between the ages of 10 and 13 have an 80 percent chance of carrying obesity into adulthood.

(Source: Obesity In Children And Teens ( 

DIAGNOSING: An excess of body fat is the predominant symptom of obesity. To measure body fat, a tool known as the Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to couple an individual’s height and weight together to determine whether their weight is deemed healthy. The result is then measured against their peers of the same gender and those between the ages of 2 and 20. A teen diagnosed as obese has a BMI greater than the 95th percentile for their age/gender. Obesity is diagnosed by a healthcare professional. BMI rankings are typically what determines whether an individual will be medically pronounced obese.

(Source: Obesity in Teens (

What is the body mass index (BMI)? – NHS (

NEW TECHNOLOGY: Through exergames and social robots, managing childhood obesity could get a bit easier. Exergames, which is the joining of exercise and video games, encourages kids to participate in physical activity in order to advance/earn tokens in a virtual game. Companies that partner with said game companies allow computer points to then be exchanged for a tangible reward. Social robots are still in development but aim to use human attributes as a way of persuading participants to follow commands. In turn, the social ‘bot would be programmed to encourage exercise and healthier eating patterns.

(Source: Efficacy of Emerging Technologies to Manage Childhood Obesity – PMC (


Judy Martin Finch                   Diane Duke Williams      

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Doctor Q and A

Read the entire Doctor Q&A for Dr. Jennifer Sprague, Pediatric Endocrinologist

Read the entire Q&A