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Treat children’s obesity with surgery and drugs, association says

Wegovy, a drug found to reduce teenagers’ BMI. Associated Press/Novo Nordisk

Treat children’s obesity with surgery and drugs, association says

The American Academy of Pediatrics published a paper Monday recommending early and aggressive treatment for obesity. Children as young as 12 struggling with obesity could be treated with medications, and teenagers should be treated with surgery, according to the academy’s report. This is the first guidance the group has released in 15 years. Pediatricians were previously advised to wait and see whether obesity could be overcome independently. The new guidance treats obesity as a biological issue rather than as a result of an unhealthy lifestyle. 

Do some doctors disagree? Dr. Robert Lustig said he’s against a “willy-nilly” use of medications without addressing the root cause of a problem. Lustig is a longtime specialist in pediatric endocrinology at the University of California, San Francisco. Obese children should first focus on a low-sugar diet, Lustig said. Dr. Stephanie Byrne, a pediatrician at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, said more research is needed into potential long-term effects before prescribing medications regularly. 

Dig deeper: Read Heather Frank’s report in Beginnings on a new treatment for obesity using nanoparticles.

Mary Muncy

Mary Muncy is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. She graduated from World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

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