Feature Article

Managing obesity in childhood and adolescence

Louise A Baur, Jane R Allen



Obesity in childhood and adolescence is increasingly prevalent and is associated with significant psychological and medical morbidity. Effective management includes having a family focused approach, setting small, achievable goals for behaviour change, targeting sedentary behaviour, helping families and young people to make healthier food choices, and providing ongoing support.

Key Points

  • In managing obesity in childhood and adolescence, focus on behaviour change and not a ‘diet’.
  • Small, achievable goals should be set for behaviour change.
  • Parent-only sessions should be used when dealing with an obese preadolescent child.
  • Adolescent patients and their parents should have the opportunity to be counselled separately at some stage.
  • Sedentary behaviour, such as time spent watching the television or videos or at the computer, should be targeted.
  • Low fat healthier food choices will be important for long term weight management.
  • Families and young people will need ongoing support to make sustainable lifestyle changes.