Children with obesity must be treated in time, prior to adolescence, researchers warn

October 30, 2012

A new study from Karolinska Institutet shows that behavioural treatment for inducing weight-loss can be very effective for severely obese children. However, the treatment to change dietary and exercise habits must be given in time, as it showed to have little effect on adolescents with the same problem.

"The results are indeed alarming for these severely obese adolescents, who run a serious risk of disease and social marginalisation," says Claude Marcus, professor of paediatrics at Karolinska Institutet. "New treatment methods must be developed and for some young people, surgery must even be considered an option."

In the present study, which is published in the scientific journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, the researchers have evaluated a form of behavioural treatment for seriously obese children centred on exercise and diet. Over a period of three years, the children met regularly with a team comprising a doctor, psychologist, physiotherapist, nurse and dietician at Rikscentrum Barnobesitas, a national childhood obesity centre based at the Astrid Lindgren Childrens Hospital in Stockholm. The study included 643 obese children and adolescents in the 6  16 age-band, who began treatment between 1998 and 2006.

The results show that the behavioural treatment was effective for the younger children, particularly those with severe obesity. But the older the participants were, the harder it became to change their dietary and . Teenagers with moderate obesity responded slightly to the treatment, but for the large majority of teenagers with severe obesity, it had no demonstrable health effect at all.

The study also revealed that most of the obese had weight problems already in primary school, leading the researchers to conclude that much would be gained if treatment was started when overweight or obese children were six or seven years old.

"Unfortunately, data from the Swedish national Childhood Registry, BORIS, show that the average age for beginning treatment is currently ten," says study team member Dr Pernilla Danielsson. "And there are some health authorities that offer no treatment at all to ."

Explore further: ECO: Behavioral treatment for obesity effective in children

More information: Danielsson, P. et al., Response of Severely Obese Children and Adolescents to Behavioral Treatment. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, first online 29 October. 2012

Related Stories

ECO: Behavioral treatment for obesity effective in children

May 14, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Behavioral treatment for obesity is much more effective for younger children than for adolescents, according to a study presented at the European Congress on Obesity, held from May 9 to 11 in Lyon, France.

Two out of three very obese kids already have heart disease risk factors

July 23, 2012
Two out of three severely obese kids already have at least one risk factor for heart disease, suggests research published online in Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Severe obesity not seen to increase risk of depression in teens

April 21, 2011
According to a new study, severely obese adolescents are no more likely to be depressed than normal weight peers. The study, which has been released online in the Journal of Adolescent Health, did find that white adolescents ...

Recommended for you

Asthma drug tied to nightmares, depression

September 20, 2017
(HealthDay)—The asthma medication Singulair (montelukast) appears linked to neuropsychiatric side effects, such as depression, aggression, nightmares and headaches, according to a new review by Dutch researchers.

Parents not confident schools can assist child with chronic disease, mental health

September 18, 2017
If your child had an asthma attack during the school day, would school personnel know how to respond?

Premature infants may get metabolic boost from mom's breast milk

September 14, 2017
The breast milk of mothers with premature babies has different amounts of microRNA than that of mothers with babies born at term, which may help premature babies catch up in growth and development, according to researchers.

Explaining bursts of activity in brains of preterm babies

September 12, 2017
The source of spontaneous, high-amplitude bursts of activity seen in the brains of preterm babies, which are vital for healthy development, has been identified by a team led by researchers at UCL and King's College London.

Why one teenager may need more—or less—sleep than another

August 30, 2017
Sleep problems contribute to a number of mental health issues in adolescents, researchers say. But a lingering question is whether some teens need more—or less—sleep than others to be healthy and at their best.

Study shows probiotics can prevent sepsis in infants

August 17, 2017
A research team at the University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Public Health has determined that a special mixture of good bacteria in the body reduced the incidence of sepsis in infants in India by 40 percent at ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.