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Federal Panel Urges Obesity Screening for Kids Ages 6 and Up
Date:1/18/2010

Children who are obese should be referred to treatment, USPSTF panel says,,

MONDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- A federal panel of health experts has issued new recommendations encouraging U.S. doctors to screen children aged 6 and older for obesity, and to offer them a referral to intensive weight management programs when necessary.

The recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) update those issued in 2005. At that time, the group said there was insufficient evidence to recommend routine obesity screening in children.

However, "since 2005, a series of randomized clinical trials have demonstrated that there is effective therapy, so we felt compelled to change the recommendations," said the UPSTF panel chair Dr. Ned Calonge, chief medical officer of the Colorado Department of Public Health in Denver.

"This is an encouraging message. There's hope for successful treatment, and we hope that parents will ask their pediatrician if their child needs intervention," said Calonge.

He said it's better to address the problem as early as possible in childhood instead of waiting until your child is grown.

"Once you become an overweight adult, it's more difficult to change your behavior," Colange said. "We do believe that childhood behaviors can be changed, and investing in changing these behaviors in kids is an investment that can pay off lifelong."

The new recommendations will be published in the February issue of Pediatrics, and are available online on Jan. 18 on the Pediatrics Web site.

Although recent statistics suggest that the rate of childhood obesity may be leveling off, one out of every six U.S. children is still obese, according data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics released last Wednesday.

The new recommendations now urge doctors to screen all children between 6 and 18 years of age for obesity. Screening shou
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