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NC doctor reacts to updated guidelines on treating childhood obesity

A girl's hand reaches for sugar cubes. "We told people to load up on processed carbohydrates and gave sugary beverages a pass," said Dr. David Ludwig on what science got wrong about childhood obesity.
Loic Venance
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AFP/Getty Images
The American Academy of Pediatrics has made a major update to its guidelines on childhood obesity. Novant pediatrician Soren Johnson says the new standard may mean starting medications earlier for some patients.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has made a major update to its guidelines on childhood obesity. Novant pediatrician Soren Johnson says the new standard may mean starting medications earlier for some patients.

The new guidelines warn that waiting to treat kids struggling with obesity could make things worse. Instead, physicians should consider starting medications around the age of 12.

Dr. Johnson says doctors have traditionally relied on treatments including behavior intervention, nutrition and counseling to address childhood obesity.

“This set of guidelines is a little bit more aggressive in saying, ‘We really should think about using medicines that might help or at least consider it and discuss that with the family a little bit younger and a little bit more aggressively than we have in the past,'” he said.

Johnson said obesity has been linked to a variety of long-term adverse health impacts including diabetes, heart conditions and liver disease.

More immediately though, he said obesity carries a stigma that can be harmful to children’s self-esteem.

The American Association of Pediatrics says obesity affects more than 14 million children and adolescents.

Paul Garber