DeSantis criticizes experts’ new guidance for obese children

MIAMI – During an event about lowering the costs of pharmaceuticals Thursday, Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized the American Academy of Pediatrics’s new guidance on childhood obesity.

The guidance applies to children who have a high body mass index and suggests that pediatricians prescribe medication at 12 years old and weight-loss surgery at 13.

“I think that that’s just them trying to monetize this issue,” DeSantis said standing behind a “Lower Drug Prices” sign.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Novo Nordisk’s Wegovy, a weekly injection for patients ages 12 and older that is also known as semaglutide and costs about $1,300 a month. A study found that Wegovy helped teens achieve an estimated 16% reduction in their BMI by affecting how the gut and the brain regulate energy.

The medication comes with a warning: “Laboratory animals who were given semaglutide developed tumors” of the thyroid gland. DeSantis suggested the new guidance was not the answer.

“Kids years ago were more active than they are now,” DeSantis said. “They had better diets than they have now, so why don’t we focus on those things rather than try to pump them with pharmaceuticals?”

Ronni Litz Julien, a nutritionist and dietitian, said the new guidelines don’t mean that we are dealing with something new.

“Physicians are willing to be more assertive and aggressive with making sure that these kids have a chance for good health in the future,” she said.

Vide of DeSantis’s short statement

About the Authors:

Ian Margol joined the Local 10 News team in July 2016 as a general assignment reporter. Born in Miami Beach and raised in Broward County, Ian is thrilled to be back home in South Florida.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.