Ontario Healthy Kids Panel Recommends Increasing Pediatric Treatment Options

No Time to Wait - Ontario Healthy KidsAlthough the primary mandate and focus of the Ontario Health Kids Panel was to come up with recommendations to prevent obesity, it did not stop short of making some very important comments regarding the need for also making more and better obesity treatments available to those kids, who are already overweight or obese.

Thus, the panel notes that,

“Children who are seriously overweight or obese need timely access to effective treatment and support services. Ontario currently has a small network of pediatric weight management programs. Most offer lifestyle coaching, a structured exercise plan and nutritional counselling. The province also has two specialized bariatric treatment centres: one at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) that provides intensive, non- surgical interventions for kids with a BMI in the 99th percentile, and one at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto that provides comprehensive medical management of obesity and co-morbidities and both surgical and non-surgical bariatric treatments.”

These programs serve only a few hundred kids each year – many more kids, who could benefit have little or no access to such treatments.

Thus, the panel recommends that,

“Ontario kids who are overweight or obese must have access to support and treatment programs to help them get their weight back into balance. Until we are able to change the trajectory on childhood overweight and obesity, we must ensure that all children and youth in need of community-based weight management/support programs, non-surgical bariatric treatment or bariatric surgery have timely access to services – and that primary care providers are aware of these programs and can make appropriate referrals.”

While prevention measures may well take time to roll out and perhaps even longer to prove effective, kids already struggling with obesity need help now to ensure their future. These are the kids that will truly be “lost” if no immediate action is taken to provide them with the care they need.

While I am all for prevention – I am also a strong advocate for delivering the care to those folks (kids or adults), who already have the problem – this is where I see the most urgent need for action.

Remember, if childhood obesity was an infectious disease, we’d be opening treatment centres for affected kids on every street corner.

Edmonton, AB

p.s. Preventing and Treating Childhood Obesity is a central topic at the upcoming 3rd Canadian Obesity Summit, May 1-4, Vancouver – check out the program here.