What are the treatment options for childhood obesity?

Shirley Alexander, Louise A Baur



In the management of childhood obesity, family-based lifestyle interventions aimed at long-term behavioural change in the areas of diet and physical activity can produce significant reductions in weight. In those more severely affected, nonconventional treatments such as very low energy diets, medications and bariatric surgery may be considered as adjuncts.

Key Points

  • Almost one in four school-aged children in Australia is overweight or obese.
  • Complications of obesity include obstructive sleep apnoea, limitation of mobility, metabolic derangement and psychosocial problems such as bullying and low self-esteem.
  • The aims of treatment of patients with obesity are to reduce adiposity and diminish or eliminate obesity complications.
  • Significant reductions in weight can be achieved using family-targeted lifestyle intervention programs (a combination of dietary, physical activity and behavioural modification).
  • In children more severely affected, additional strategies such as short-term restrictive diets or pharmacotherapy may be required.