Twenty-five of the nation’s leading children’s hospitals, in collaboration with the Children’s Hospital Association, issued “consensus statements,” or recommendations, addressing the steps to take for the screening and treatment of four medical conditions that, in the past, were typically found in adults but have been on the rise as obesity has become more prevalent among children. The recommendations, published in the August 2014 issue of the journal Childhood Obesity
, were developed for use by primary pediatricians to help identify and treat lipid abnormalities, abnormal liver enzymes, hypertension and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in children with obesity. The recommendations also include guidelines on when to involve specialists in the ongoing care of the child.
“Childhood obesity represents an unprecedented challenge to child health and the services provided by pediatricians due to life-threatening conditions resulting from obesity,” said Mark Wietecha, president and CEO, Children’s Hospital Association. “By defining standard plans for screening and treatment of comorbidities that, until recently, were rarely seen in children, our clinicians have taken an important step in addressing the conditions at first line of defense—the primary care pediatrician.”
Approximately one-third of children in the U.S. are impacted by childhood obesity or is overweight. As a result, these children are at risk for obesity-related conditions including hypertension, sleep apnea, diabetes, fatty liver disease and other conditions. As the number of children with obesity-related conditions has increased, so have the demands for care from pediatric specialists such as pediatric endocrinologist or pediatric cardiologists. Unfortunately timely access to pediatric specialists is challenged by an ongoing shortage of trained specialists in the workforce. In creating recommendations for treatments of four of the more common conditions found in children with obesity, clinicians have provided primary pediatricians with the knowledge to immediately address serious health threats in their patients, for whom the primary pediatrician has been a trusted authority in their care.
“In providing a core set of user-friendly consensus statements on screening and treatment plans for lipid abnormalities, abnormal liver enzymes, hypertension and PCOS, we are not only empowering the primary pediatrician to address diseases that are rapidly spreading among children with obesity, we hope to motivate families to address these serious health conditions with a provider whom they’ve held a longstanding relationship,” said Elizabeth Estrada, MD, Director, Pediatric Obesity Center, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center.
The article, "Children’s Hospital Association Consensus Statements of Comorbidities of Childhood Obesity," was the result of the work of the Association’s Focus on a Fitter Future II initiative, comprised of leaders from 25 leading children’s hospitals across the U.S. The recommendations published were developed by a subcommittee of clinician experts in the treatment of various conditions associated with obesity. The article is available in its entirety online along with a second article focused on Type 2 diabetes and childhood obesity produced by the group.