Clinical review: Guide to pharmacological management in pediatric obesity medicine

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Obesity Pillars (Online)


INTRODUCTION: Newer pharmacotherapy agents (anti-obesity medication [AOM]) are revolutionizing the management of children and adolescents with obesity. Previously, treatment based on intensive behavioral therapy involved many patient and family contact hours and yielded improvements in obesity status of 1-3 percent of the 95th percentile of the body mass index (BMI). Newer AOMs are yielding more clinically significant improvement of 5-18 percent. This review provides guidance for practitioners in the care of children and adolescents with obesity who frequently have complex medical and behavioral health care needs. Specifically, we discuss the use of newer AOMs in these complex patients. METHODS: This review details an approach to the care of the child and adolescent with obesity using AOMs. A shared decision-making process is presented in which the provider and the patient and family collaborate on care. Management of medical and behavioral components of the disease of obesity in the child are discussed. RESULTS: Early aggressive treatment is recommended, starting with an assessment of associated medical and behavioral complications, weight promoting medications, use of AOMs and ongoing care. Intensive behavioral therapy is foundational to treatment, but not a specific treatment. Patients and families deserve education on expected outcomes with each therapeutic option. CONCLUSIONS: The use of new AOMs in children and adolescents has changed expected clinical outcomes in the field of pediatric obesity management. Clinically significant improvement in obesity status occurs when AOMs are used early and aggressively. Ongoing, chronic care is the model for optimizing outcomes using a shared decision-making between provider and patient/family. Depending on the experience and comfort level of the primary care practitioner, referral to an obesity medicine specialist may be appropriate, particularly when obesity related co-morbidities are present and pharmacotherapy and metabolic and bariatric surgery are considerations.

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