U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Issues Final Recommendation Statement for Screening for Obesity in Children and Adolescents

January 22, 2010 – Based on new evidence that children and adolescents can be effectively treated for obesity, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force now recommends that clinicians screen children ages 6 to 18 years for obesity and refer them to programs to improve their weight status. Comprehensive programs included 3 components:

  1. Counseling for weight loss or healthy diet
  2. Counseling for physical activity or a physical activity program
  3. Behavioral management techniques, such as goal setting and self monitoring.

Moderate- to high-intensity programs involve more than 25 hours of contact with the child and/or the family over a 6-month period. Families who seek treatment for obesity should look for comprehensive programs that address weight control through healthy food choices, physical activity, and behavioral skill-building. The recommendation was released online on January 18.

The recommendation will be published in the February issue of Pediatrics and is also available on the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Web site at http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Topic/recommendation-summary/v2-obesity-in-children-and-adolescents-screening-2.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is the leading independent panel of experts in prevention and primary care. The Task Force, which is supported by AHRQ, conducts rigorous, impartial assessments of the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of a broad range of clinical preventive services, including screening, counseling, and preventive medications. Its recommendations are considered the gold standard for clinical preventive services.