Screening and interventions for overweight in children and adolescents: recommendation statement

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Pediatrics 2005, 116 (1): 205-9
The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) is an independent panel of non-federal experts in prevention and primary care that systematically reviews the evidence of effectiveness and develops recommendations for clinical preventive services. This recommendation addresses the evidence for the accuracy of screening children and adolescents using BMI, the effectiveness of behavioral and pharmacologic interventions in improving health outcomes in these children, and the potential harms of routine screening and intervention. Using USPSTF methodology, an analytic framework with key questions was developed to guide the systematic review, which serves as the basis for this recommendation. The number of children and adolescents who are overweight has more than doubled in the last 25 years. Childhood and adolescent overweight is associated with increased health risks. The USPSTF found insufficient evidence for the effectiveness of behavioral counseling or other preventive interventions with overweight children and adolescents that can be conducted in primary care settings. Currently, available studies are limited by factors such as small sample sizes, poor generalizability, and variable follow-up. Based upon this critical gap in the evidence for effectiveness, the USPSTF concludes that the evidence is insufficient to recommend for or against routine screening for overweight in children and adolescents as a means to prevent adverse health outcomes ("I" recommendation). There are several gaps in the research evidence on screening and interventions for overweight children and adolescents in the primary care setting. Research is needed to provide well-defined and effective approaches to medical and psychological screening in children, as well as effective clinical approaches for the prevention and treatment of overweight in children that can be implemented by primary care clinicians.

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