Caitlyn Edson has a lot on her plate with her two kids, and that includes what’s on their plates. Edson is as a pediatric dietician, helping children develop healthy eating habits for life.

"I try to keep some type of iron source, either a fruit or vegetable, and then some type of fat source. But honestly, by the end of the week, they eat whatever we have left in the house," Edson said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has issued new guidance on childhood obesity. The group is shifting from the practice of “watchful waiting” to a more proactive and intensive approach.

For children 6 and older, the guidelines suggest lifestyle counseling focused on nutrition and exercise. But if that doesn’t spark improvement, weight loss drugs are recommended.

Teens with severe obesity should be evaluated for bariatric surgery.

"I'd rather see them promote a healthy relationship with food. Because once they hear they're overweight, it can really set them up for lots of other issues in the future," Edson said.

While the new guidelines may come as a shock to parents, some experts argue that surgery and medication can be a useful tool in combating the crisis. Over the past 40 years, obesity rates have tripled in children and quadrupled in teens.

"The reasons why kids struggle with food, whether it be financially or their parents aren't educated about it or they're so picky … there's only a few foods that they'll eat, and they haven't been able to get help," Edson said.

University at Albany professor Christine Bozlak specializes in childhood obesity prevention. She says it boils down to implementing new policies and addressing food insecurity “by working with those communities to make sure that they have just as much access to health care services, healthy foods, physical activity, opportunities as other communities," Bozlak said.

The guidelines may have their own set of barriers. Studies have found that children who receive weight loss-related surgeries are mostly white, despite pediatric obesity rates being highest among children of color. And for those who may benefit from surgery or treatment, a lack of health insurance can become an issue.

"So we really need to take the blame off of families and in especially children, because they aren't to blame for this disease. It is a disease, and it's caused by a number of factors," Bozlak said.

Back in Edson's kitchen, she says when it comes to starting a balanced diet, the earlier the better.

"It's important to prevent rather than to get to that extent of medication surgeries, especially for kids, because it can be really harmful to recommend those things sometimes," Edson said.