A new study suggests that size is not the most important factor in determining the health needs of children with obesity. (iStock)

Health, not size should inform treatment for obese children: study

Doctors usually determine the severity of a child’s problem with obesity using the body mass index (BMI), which measures weight compared to height. But a new study suggests it is more important to look at their overall health rather than their size when considering treatment.  

For example, the study called the Canadian Pediatric Weight Management Registry found that mental health problems were common among most of the obese children and were not more prevalent among those with the highest BMI.

“I think it’s important that families and clinicians don’t just think about the child’s size, but really about their health–both their mental health and their physical health,” says Dr. Katherine Morrison, senior author of the study and a professor of pediatrics at McMaster University.

It is wrong to assume that obese children with the lowest BMI would be least likely to have mental health issues, according to this study. (iStock)

Mental health issues prevalent at all levels of obesity

Among the 847 children with obesity studied, the most common health issues were mental health concerns (90 per cent), metabolic (85 per cent), social (65 per cent, and mechanical such as knee and joint problems (62 per cent),

The children will be followed for three years to try to determine what treatment components most help their physical and mental health. The goal is to improve treatment.

As in many industrialized nations, obesity among children in Canada is increasing. One-third of Canadian children are either overweight or obese.

The study was published in the journal, The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

(photo: McMaster University)

Dr. Katherine Morrison says health issues and not size should determine the severity of a young person’s obesity.

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