Helping Children With Childhood and Adolescent Obesity

Approximately 17% of children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years in the United States have obesity and almost 32% are considered overweight or obese.

In children and adolescents, this can lead to morbidity such as mental health and psychological issues, asthma, obstructive sleep apnea, orthopedic problems, and adverse cardiovascular and metabolic outcomes (e.g., high blood pressure, abnormal lipid levels, and insulin resistance). They may also experience teasing and bullying behaviors based on their weight. If not appropriately addressed, obesity in children and adolescence may continue into adulthood and lead to adverse cardiovascular outcomes or other obesity-related morbidity, such as type 2 diabetes.

Well child visits help to assess physical, emotional, and social development, as well as identify any critical screening and counseling needs. It is important you detect childhood obesity early so that you may help the child reach a healthier weight to negate the risks listed above. The United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) recommends that children and adolescents are screened for obesity at 6 years of age and older. If they are considered obese, you should refer them to comprehensive, intensive behavioral interventions to promote improvements in weight status.

It is a state requirement of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to screen for childhood and adolescent obesity. To help, the Highmark Preventive Schedule  offers, with no cost sharing, the following services for CHIP members aged 2-18 years with a BMI in the 85th percentile or greater:

  • Four preventive health office visits: three follow up visits per year to the annual preventive exam specifically for obesity and a blood pressure check
  • Unlimited nutritional counseling visits per year specifically for obesity
  • One set of recommended lab work annually that includes:
    • Cholesterol screening
    • Hemoglobin A1c OR fasting glucose
    • AST
    • ALT

Other Highmark members with the Preventive Schedule may receive the same benefits with little or no cost sharing. Please check the individual member benefits through NaviNet® or by calling the Member Services number on the back of the member ID card.

To refer a CHIP member to a Clinical Care and Wellness Case Management program, please read the Case Management Referral Feature Now Available in NaviNet® eBulletin published on December 2, 2019.

Looking for More Information?

To help guide you and your patients in navigating childhood obesity, Highmark has published a Childhood Obesity Tool Kit that can be found on the Provider Resource Center.