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August 29, 2022

Pediatric Obesity Research Update | September 2022

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Each month, the OMA Pediatric Committee reviews a pediatric-focused obesity research update to help keep you up to date about the latest findings. This month’s update addresses pediatric obesity and anti-obesity medication.

Neuromusculoskeletal Health in Pediatric Obesity: Incorporating Evidence into Clinical Examination

Article Summary

The authors highlight the clinical importance of assessing and managing neuromusculoskeletal health in children with obesity. Healthcare providers should screen for neuromusculoskeletal
problems to personalize interventions, modify standardized exercise interventions,
and optimize obesity treatment. Read the full article.

Article Review

In this review article, the authors consider that children with obesity may experience various neuromusculoskeletal impairments and physical complications (i.e., pain, decreased lower extremity muscle strength, postural dysfunction, impaired balance, or coordination) that could impact their movement, their interest in physical activity and exercise, and their capacity to engage in physical activity and exercise. Additionally, these neuromusculoskeletal impairments can also impact the child’s quality of life and the overall management of the disease of obesity. Removing barriers to movement can optimize the development of the neuromusculoskeletal system, help facilitate engagement in sufficient physical activity for health, and assist in obesity treatment.

Healthcare professionals need to develop personalized interventions for each child with obesity based on environmental and personal factors (e.g., lack of access to safe spaces, weight-based teasing from teachers, peers, family, or poor body image). Healthcare professionals also need to modify standardized exercise interventions to adapt to the child’s current activity and participation levels. In doing so, this helps to ensure sufficient physical activity and its related health benefits.

The authors present several “key considerations” when planning exercise interventions in pediatric obesity management, including contraindications to exercise, developing exercise treatment plans that are based on objective findings, creating interventions that are appropriate for the child’s age and stage of development, and consider the role of cultural meaning and context when planning for exercise. These suggestions are helpful in primary and tertiary care situations and could become integral to all pediatric obesity management programs.

Additional Resources

Find more resources curated by OMA’s Pediatric Committee on ourPediatric Resources page. There, you’ll find additional article reviews on various topics related to obesity as well as public resources for clinicians and families.

O'Malley, G.C., Shultz, S.P., Thivel, D. et al. Neuromusculoskeletal Health in Pediatric Obesity: Incorporating Evidence into Clinical Examination. Curr Obes Rep 10, 467–477 (2021).