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'Your kid is obese' diagnosis might now come with help

January 18, 2010 |  3:22 pm

ScalesVision test? Check. Dental exam? Check. Routine physical? Check. Obesity screening? Um...

If it wasn't on the keep-your-kids-healthy list already, it should be. Because now there's something to be done about it. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that not only should children be screened for obesity beginning at age 6 but that -- this is key -- they should be referred to an intervention program if they're too heavy.

The task force is getting tough.

Before, it had simply recommended that kids be screened. But the members weren't quite sure what constituted an effective intervention. And this is not a group to make recommendations without evidence.

Today, the task-forcers know what works: moderate- to high-intensity programs that provide counseling on diet, physical activity and behavior, not just one or the other.

Here's the recommendation statement from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, plus the rationale behind the updated recommendations, what constitutes a "comprehensive program" ... and much more.

As for what defines "obese," that determination is based on body-mass index. Here's more on BMI in children and teens from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And a BMI calculator for children and teenagers.

If you want to do something about what you've been trying to think of as baby fat before the next checkup, consider the agency's resource page. It includes links to exercise recommendations (one hour a day), even a portion-control game.

Don't laugh. The information is useful and, considering that it's supposed to rain all week, the game itself might look like a good option by Friday.

-- Tami Dennis

Photo: Step right up, kids. 

Credit: Hartford Courant