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Improving the Outlook on Childhood Obesity

At University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s, our experienced team of pediatric endocrinologists understand the challenges and causes of childhood obesity. That’s why we are committed to helping every child in our care learn how to better manage their weight for the healthiest lifestyle and long-term outlook.

Childhood obesity remains a serious problem in the U.S., impacting approximately 12.7 million children and adolescents according to the Centers for Disease Control. The long-term childhood obesity effects are sobering as it contributes to many of the most serious chronic conditions including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s is uniquely positioned to help patients and families get to the core of pediatric obesity issues—whether they are related to lifestyle choices or connected to underlying genetic or metabolic conditions. Our approach to care is based on the latest developments in the field and draws from an exceptional team of pediatric specialists committed to redefining standards of obesity care.

Expert Pediatric Obesity Care, Cutting-Edge Research

Our nationally-renowned group of dedicated pediatric endocrinologists bring a broad and diverse range of collective experience to obesity care. Robust clinical research programs covering child obesity have deepened the reach of our programs since the mid-2000s, resulting in some of the most innovative approaches to childhood obesity treatment available today.

Research clearly confirms the need for a multidisciplinary approach to childhood obesity prevention that draws from the expertise of a diverse range of pediatric professionals. A dedicated registered dietician is critical to this equation and is one of the elements most often missing from primary care treatment.

At UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s, our team includes board-certified and fellowship-trained pediatric endocrinologists, social workers, nurses, dieticians and other specialists who work together to comprehensively address both the physical and emotional aspects of childhood obesity. We work collaboratively with families through forward-thinking wellness programs to help children change behaviors and achieve a better long-term health outcome.

Risk Factors and Causes of Childhood Obesity

Weight gain often comes down to a simple equation: calories taken in minus energy burned. Too many calories combined with too little physical activity will result in increased weight.

Socioeconomic and lifestyle factors often have strong ties to childhood obesity. Because healthy food options are often more expensive, these choices are often out of reach for low-income families. Chronic overeating and an inactive lifestyle can also contribute to excessive weight gain as can a diet full of sugary, high-fat and refined foods.

Outside of lifestyle, other factors that contribute to childhood obesity include the genetic and metabolic make-up of a child. For instance, obesity is often passed down through families, increasing childhood risk. A child’s metabolism – the way they use energy – may also impact their ability to burn calories quickly. Additionally, some endocrine disorders, diseases and medicines may have a strong effect on a child’s weight.

Diagnosing and Treating Childhood Obesity

When a child is evaluated at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s, pediatric specialists will use the body mass index (BMI) guideline to determine a diagnosis. BMI measures the weight and height of a child, adolescent or teen and then compares the result with standards for children of the same gender between the ages of two and 20. A BMI between the 85th and 95th percentile receives a designation of overweight.

A patient is obese once their BMI reaches above the 95th percentile or is measured at 30, whichever is smaller. Once this determination is made, a comprehensive screening is conducted to evaluate five areas of health risk including:

  • Family history of cardiovascular disease, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Total cholesterol level
  • Large gains in BMI from year to year
  • Concerns about weight, including the child’s own concerns about being overweight.

Based on findings, our multidisciplinary team of experts will develop a customized childhood obesity treatment plan that considers the unique contributing factors of obesity in the patient. While approaches may include nutrition, medication tactics, counseling and education, all patients are surrounded by an encouraging, understanding support system that is readily accessible and available to help when needed. Our team of pediatric endocrinologists will help families understand their choices and the pros and cons of all decisions so they are comfortable with the childhood obesity solutions proposed. Our multiple locations across northeast Ohio provide convenient access for patients and families to treatment over the course of a program.

Interactive Programs for Better Engagement

Patient engagement is critical to improving the outlook on childhood obesity. That’s why our programs are tailored to be interactive and fun, bringing families together to create new, healthy habits.

Our endocrinology specialist team, including active participation from a behavioral psychologist, designs interactive games to troubleshoot problem areas with patients and set goals. This way, patients are less likely to become discouraged, defensive or overwhelmed by the process. Our pediatric specialists also bring families together to actively participate in behavior change through such endeavors as outings to fresh food markets or by developing their own gardens.

A Better Approach to Childhood Obesity

Patient and families who choose UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s can feel confident they are receiving the highest standard of care for childhood obesity care available today. We offer uncommon expertise backed by the latest research to ensure the best long-term outcome. Our childhood obesity prevention and treatment programs are designed to help children change habits and lead healthier lives. It’s part of our commitment to improving the outlook on childhood obesity.