WASHINGTON, June 20 (Xinhua) -- Children and adolescents aged six years and older should be screened for obesity, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommended Tuesday.
In a final recommendation statement, the USPSTF said those found to have obesity should be offered or referred to intensive behavioral interventions that help them manage their weight.
Roughly one in three children and adolescents in the United States are currently overweight or have obesity.
The way to screen for obesity is by assessing BMI, or body mass index, which is calculated from a child's height and weight and is plotted on a growth chart. Obesity is defined as a BMI at or above the 95th percentile for a child's age and sex.
Childhood and adolescent obesity can cause problems such as asthma, higher blood pressure, and sleep apnea, the USPSTF said. It also may lead to health problems in adulthood, including obesity and related issues, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
"Parents do not always recognize when their children are overweight, so it is important for clinicians to measure BMI, or body mass index, as part of regular health care," task force chair David Grossman said in a statement.
"Children with obesity should be referred to programs that help them manage weight and improve their overall health," Grossman said.
The USPSTF is an independent, volunteer panel of U.S. experts that makes recommendations about the effectiveness of specific preventive care services such as screenings, counseling services, and preventive medications.