WHO releases new guidelines to assess, manage obesity in children


With increasing evidence that childhood obesity is a “global epidemic”, affecting even the poorer nations, the World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines on how trained professionals can better identify youngsters in need of help.

The WHO guidelines, titled “Assessing and managing children at primary healthcare facilities to prevent overweight and obesity in the context of the double burden of malnutrition”, provides updates for the Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI). The guidelines include counselling, dieting and assessment of eating habits along with the usual weight and height measurements.

According to new guidelines, where infants and children are identified as overweight, WHO recommends providing counselling to parents and caregivers on nutrition and physical activity including promotion and support for exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months and continued breastfeeding until 24 months or beyond. If children are obese, they should be further assessed and an appropriate management plan should be developed. This can be done by a health worker at primary health-care level, if adequately trained, or at a referral clinic or local hospital.