Weight loss ops for fat children

obese childControversial guidelines that could see children offered weight loss surgery have been published by the Government's health watchdog.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) report is the first of its kind from the body aimed at tackling the obesity crisis in England and Wales.

The guidance focuses on the prevention and treatment of obesity in adults and children and will be sent to NHS professionals, schools, local authorities, employers and town planners. Nice said there was a need "for urgent action" to stem the rising tide of obesity.

A Department of Health report published in August showed that a third of adults and a fifth of all children under 15 will be obese by 2010.

More than 12 million adults and one million children are expected to be obese, with millions more overweight. As a result, the Government is likely to miss its target to halt the year-on-year rise in obesity among under 11s by 2010.

The guidelines offer suggestions on how health professionals can advise parents on cooking, healthy eating, meal planning and food shopping.

Health workers are urged to identify children at risk of becoming dangerously overweight, for example if both parents are obese.

The guidance suggested that families become more active and that the amount of time children spend in front of a TV or computer screen is reduced.

Nurseries and childcare groups are urged to increase active playtime while schools are encouraged to develop an ethos that "helps children and young people to maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy diet and be physically active."

Surgical interventions such as gastric banding "is not generally recommended for children or young people" and should be considered "only in exceptional circumstances", it added. Surgery should only be offered if a child has "achieved or nearly achieved physiological maturity" - defined by Nice as having gone through puberty.

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