Health officials offer insight into new childhood obesity guidelines

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New guidelines for treating childhood obesity were recently released and health officials are offering new insight into what it means.

The guidelines come as, according to the CDC, obesity affects 15 million children and teens. The New Mexico Department of Health says we’re one of 38 states with an obesity rate of over 30%. Since the 1980s, they say that rate has tripled in children and quadrupled in teens.

That’s why the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines show there is a need for early and intensive treatment for kids that have severe obesity. For kids, ages 2 to 12, medications may help. For those 13 and older, weight loss surgery may help.

The guidelines suggest these options can be effective in nixing obesity. It can also help reduce the risk of developing other health conditions in the future.

“But they’re not really saying we should consider surgery early on, necessarily. What they’re really saying is that, instead of watchful waiting to see if you outgrow your childhood obesity, we should be a little more aggressive,” Dr. Heredia said.

However, not everyone is the same. Cutting out excess sugar, sodium, and fat from your kid’s diet highlights parents’ important role in preventing childhood obesity. Your habits and taking time to walk with your kid or go to the park also make a difference.

“Be a good example for your kids, eat well, exercise regularly, and get plenty of sleep. Your kids are looking at you. They’re watching you. They’re learning from you,” said Dr. Gilberto Heredia, a family physician with Optum New Mexico.

Obesity is a complex disorder, so those early prevention steps can be important to avoid any complications.