Drs. Aaron Kelly and Claudia Fox in the Department of Pediatrics and co-directors of the Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine at the University of Minnesota spoke to the Associated Press about new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics. The guidance states that children struggling with obesity should be evaluated and treated early and aggressively, including with medications for children ages 12+ and surgery for children 13+. According to Dr. Kelly, the group’s guidance takes into consideration that obesity is a biological problem and that the condition is a complex, chronic disease. “Obesity is not a lifestyle problem. It is not a lifestyle disease. It predominantly emerges from biological factors,” he said.

Medications should be used as a treatment, in addition to an intensive diet, exercise and other behavior and lifestyle interventions. 

Dr. Fox said she prescribed the drug for one of her patients within days of the authorization. “What it offers patients is the possibility of even having an almost normal body mass index,” said Dr. Fox. “It’s like a whole different level of improvement.”

Untreated obesity can lead to lifelong health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes and depression.

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