BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) ––– Thousands of Louisiana kids may be eligible for diet pills or weight-loss surgery based on updated guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

“In the US, we’ve got over 14 million children and adolescents that are considered to be overweight or obese, and in Louisiana, specifically in Baton Rouge, we are above the national average,” explained family medicine physician Dr. Jacob Wood.

The CDC is increasing the BMI range from 37 to 60 because more children are now outside the current range. The AAP has also issued new guidelines for dealing with childhood obesity.

For children aged 11 and under, the emphasis is on behavioral and lifestyle changes such as increasing activity and eating healthier. However, Dr. Wood explained that the same cannot be said for older children.

“If you have a kid that’s 13 or older who falls in the severe obesity, then pharmacological therapy or even surgeries are considered options under the new guidelines.”

Pediatricians usually judge a child’s development by comparing their height, weight, and BMI to the national average for children their age. Children who are overweight or obese are more likely to have long-term health problems, such as Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, as adults.

Being overweight has consequences for a child’s mental health as well as their physical health.

“It’s more important to focus on the healthy lifestyle choices than it is to focus on the kids’ weight when you’re talking to ’em,” said Dr. Wood.

Even though the AAP hasn’t issued any preventative guidelines, Dr. Wood says the real fight begins outside the home.

“The most important thing parents can do is to focus on having healthy food choices for the kids. Win the battle at the grocery store. Don’t try to win it at the pantry.”

The CDC explains in a statement that these updates will not affect children within a healthy BMI range but the changes will help providers create a comprehensive care plan to address childhood obesity.