The Korean Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition announced a clinical practice guideline for the treatment of pediatric obesity, for the first time in Asia.
The prevalence of childhood obesity is surging not only in Korea but around the globe. Lifestyle changes into a high-calorie diet, sedentary lifestyle and decreased physical activity pushed up the prevalence of pediatric obesity in Korea from 8.4 percent in 2008 to 14.3 percent in 2016.
Most people regard childhood obesity as not an urgent issue due to a myth that “overweight children become tall adults.” Many Korean children are also under pressure that they should focus more on studies than on physical activities. However, medical professionals warn that childhood obesity is a disease that requires proper treatment.
Childhood obesity may persist for a lifetime if not treated timely. It may lead not only to various metabolic syndromes such as hypertension and atherosclerosis but to mental health problems such as emotional anxiety and social isolation from peers.
The best response measure to curb the rise of pediatric obesity is to prevent and control the disease. Evidence-based, clinical practice guidelines have been published in Western countries, but there was no such guideline on childhood obesity in Asia.
After reviewing local and overseas papers, the society said its pediatric obesity committee developed the guideline for the treatment of obesity in children and adolescents in Korea.
The guideline includes definition and diagnosis of overweight and obesity in children and adolescents; principles of the treatment of pediatric obesity; behavioral interventions in diet, exercise, lifestyle, and mental health; pharmacotherapy; bariatric surgery; recommendations in each category and different recommendation levels from A to D.
The guideline emphasized that effective prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity require efforts of not only patients and family members but the local communities and the government.
Yang Hye-ran, president of the pediatric obesity committee at the Korean Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, said the new guideline would not only help clinical support but help the government set up a public health policy.
The guideline for childhood obesity was published both on the January issue of the Pediatric Gastroenterology Hepatology and Nutrition and the Korean Journal of Pediatrics. The society is also to release a Korean e-book version and the leaflets for education for pediatricians.
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