New AAP Guidelines for Childhood and Adolescent treatment of "obesity" Resource Page
So, what do we think about the recent American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines targeting early and aggressive treatment of pediatric "obesity"?
Simply put, the dietitians at Dr. Daisy & Co view these guidelines as a step backwards in pediatric medicine.
These guidelines advise pediatricians to aggressively treat pediatric “obesity” by prescribing restrictive diets, inappropriate overuse of appetite suppression medications, and refer for stomach-altering surgeries, despite no long term research proving the safety and efficacy of these interventions.
Here’s the thing, size and weight alone are not illnesses requiring treatment (this is why we put "obesity" in "quotes"). Even if they were, changing size and shape in growing children and adolescents with dieting, weight loss drugs, or surgeries will likely contribute to long-term food and body image issues, unhealthy weight cycling, mental health illnesses including trauma induced stress disorders, anxiety, and depression, and the development of eating disorders.
We are licensed dietitians. We don't treat "obesity" - we treat eating problems.
Being at the higher end of the weight spectrum in and of itself is not evidence that a child is eating too much or in unhealthy ways. However, if your child is eating when they aren't hungry, hiding or sneaking food, eating portions that seem much bigger than what they really need, or always talking about or asking for food, we can help. Non-diet pediatric dietitians can help your child learn self-regulation skills, undo food and body shame, and develop holistic eating habits that will nourish them lifelong. Safe, successful and evidenced-based nutrition interventions exist for pediatric eating concerns.
Want to learn more about the AAP guidelines? Our colleagues at Sunny Side Up Nutrition in collaboration with the Carolina Resource Center for Eating Disorders created a Parent Resource Guide that will give you a few ideas about what you can do before, during, and after your child's doctor's visit. This is a terrific resource!
Eating disorders organizations are asking the AAP to rescind the new guidelines. Read about their unique perspective here.
You can learn about the back-story and research that led to the development of the AAP guidelines in this insightful blog post by inclusive health advocate, Ragen Chastain.
Lastly, for a fantastic opinion piece about the AAP guidelines written for the Seattle Times, click here.
We understand that these guidelines and our responses to them may be confusing or spark questions or concerns. We are here to talk so please don't hesitate to reach out!
- Dr. Daisy