The main goal of treating obesity in children and adolescents is to reduce body weight and eliminate risk factors for repeated accumulation of excess fat. Decrease in body weight contributes to a significant improvement of the child’s quality of life.
In addition, timely restoration of healthy weight in pediatric patients helps to prevent physiological or psychological consequences of obesity, such as:
- delay in puberty
- depression or persistent stress
- low self-esteem and social problems
- metabolic disorders (including diabetes)
- decreased productivity or learning ability.
For the most effective and safe treatment of obesity, adolescents and children are prescribed with various weight management programs. They include one or more therapy methods, including behavioral adjustment, lifestyle changes and psychological counseling.
Change in lifestyle is the most appropriate method of treating obesity in adolescents and children of early or school age. Purpose of this weight management program is to eliminate the main causes of excess fat: improper eating habits and low physical activity. Such approach to obesity treatment will help a child or teenager lose weight by restoring energy balance and regulating:
When choosing an adequate diet, remember that children and adolescents need nutrients: vitamins, minerals, amino acids for a full growth and development. In this regard, they are recommended to adhere to a balanced diet.
To burn excess calories quickly and not to accumulate as body fat, children and adolescents need to move a lot. For effective obesity treatment, pediatric patients are recommended to increase physical activity to at least one hour per day.
- Cycling or entertaining outdoor games (football, tennis) can be a great alternative to sedentary behavior.
- Team sports games will help the child feel relatives support and increase motivation for weight loss.
- Decrease in sedentary lifestyle helps reduce risk of excessive consumption of high-calorie snacks while watching TV programs or computer games.
The lifestyle change program helps the child gradually lose weight and learn to maintain a healthy weight even after the end of obesity therapy. Thus, it is highly effective in long-term weight management.
Modification of behavior includes such methods as setting goals or motives for weight loss, self-control, and reward system. The child needs to realize that decrease in body weight will help him restore health, increase self-confidence and improve relationships with peers.
Relatives and friends support is an important component of obesity therapy in adolescents and children.
To increase motivation for losing weight, family members are recommended to follow a diet and active lifestyle together with the child.
The minimum duration of an obesity treatment course in adolescents is usually about half a year.
The results of clinical studies prove that this time is sufficient to develop proper eating habits in an adolescent.
Young patients over 18 years old can be prescribed with surgical treatment of obesity. However, bariatric procedures can be appropriate only for those teenagers whose extreme obesity is accompanied with severe comorbid conditions.
Pediatric patients should not take diet pills. However, if other methods of treating obesity do not help to lose excess weight, use of low doses of Orlistat can be prescribed to a child or teenager.
This drug for obesity treatment helps control appetite and has a low risk of gastrointestinal adverse reactions. Before to start an Orlistat course, it is necessary to assess benefit-risk balance of its use by the child.
Children of junior or school age are recommended to follow weight management programs. They help the child gradually regain healthy weight without risk of growth retardation or other undesirable consequences of sudden weight loss.