Healthy Kids

Healthy Kids: Taking on Childhood Obesity

The global obesity epidemic has not spared children. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), childhood obesity rates have doubled and even tripled in some age groups in the past 20 years.

These statistics reveal a disturbing trend. Overweight kids are at risk for early hypertension, heart disease, sleep apnea, diabetes and other effects.

University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital is doing something about excess weight gain in children, through comprehensive, results-driven community education. Healthy Kids is preventing childhood obesity, helping children lose weight and teaching at-risk families to make healthy lifestyle choices.

At its core, Healthy Kids is a doctor-supervised early intervention, weight loss and exercise program for kids. Beyond that, it is an important resource for education and wellness.

  • The program is open to children age 4 to 18 with a Body Mass Index (BMI) above the 85th percentile.
  • The program’s centerpiece is a 12-week outpatient multidisciplinary program where specialists train kids and families how to practice healthier eating and exercise habits.
  • It starts with diabetes testing and a full physical exam.
  • The family meets the dietitian, psychologist and exercise physiologist.
  • Children meet once a week with other children in their own age group. They exercise and get important nutrition and behavior modification training.
  • While the kids are working and learning, their families master healthy shopping, meal planning and effective exercising.

Childhood obesity can become a vicious cycle of weight gain, inactivity and a cascade of health consequences. Healthy Kids is breaking the cycle—getting families back on track towards normal weight and better health.

Medically-Supervised Weight Loss, Exercise and Education

The hospital’s Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes & Metabolism devised the program as a key strategy for prevention. The experts are playing an important role in peer education.

For example, members of the endocrinology team are working with local pediatricians and family doctors to encourage tracking Body Mass Index. Body Mass Index is a more accurate way to assess healthy weight, compared to traditional height and weight charts.

And the Healthy Kids staff lend their passion and expertise to a variety of community education and communication programs. They are helping families in and around Cleveland to be more active, eat well and maintain normal weight.

The program is also contributing to important new knowledge about childhood obesity through research.

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