Our Response to the American Academy of Pediatrics Guidelines on Care for Kids in Larger Bodies

By Anne Marie O’Melia

As the leading providers of eating disorder treatment at higher levels of care, we strongly oppose the Clinical Practice Guideline for the Evaluation and Treatment of Children and Adolescent Obesity recently released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Each year, approximately 1,700 children and adolescents enter our treatment programs with diagnoses across the spectrum of eating disorders, so we see firsthand the harm caused when a child’s relationship to food and their body is damaged. We also know that damage can begin or be progressed during medical care.

The statements made and recommended treatment approaches within these guidelines, including bariatric surgery for children as young as 13 and weight loss medication for children as young as 12, perpetuate harmful weight stigma and move us further away from achieving universal weight-inclusive care. These guidelines include minimal guidance about screening for, or treatment of, disordered eating. As currently written, we expect these guidelines will cause harm and put young people at risk of developing or worsening eating disorders, disordered eating, and other mental and physical health issues.

We support the Academy for Eating Disorders' position on this issue and will be countering the AAP's guidance with a research-based response.

We urge the AAP to work with us and other pediatric experts in weight-inclusive care and eating disorders to reconsider and rewrite these guidelines to include more appropriate screening and support for the safety and wellbeing of our children and adolescents.

Take action today by signing our new petition. We will send this signed petition to the AAP along with the research-based response being developed by our clinical experts. Join us on social media to raise awareness and share why you support #CareForKidsInEveryBody.

Written by

Anne Marie O’Melia

Anne Marie O’Melia, MS, MD joined the medical staff at Eating Recovery Center in 2014. She is a Triple Board trained physician, with board certifications in Pediatrics and General Psychiatry. She also…

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