In the past 30 years the number of children living in the U.S. who are obese has more than doubled and the number of adolescents has tripled. In response, Loyola University Health System has created a Pediatric Weight Management Program designed to help families and communities in the fight against this epidemic.
“There are very few intense, medically-based treatment programs that address this need for childhood. With the staggering numbers of children facing this health challenge, there is a great need for them at this time,” said Garry Sigman, MD, director of Loyola’s Pediatric Weight Management Program.
The program offers families access to specialists, educational resources and support to help make life-long changes that promote health and help the child successfully lose extra pounds and then maintain a healthy weight.
“Children with weight problems often are living in a family that finds healthy weight management difficult for all family members. It’s imperative that everyone in the family be a part of this process,” Sigman said. “We want to involve the whole family to ensure our young patients, as well as other family members, are guided toward making progress and receive encouragement at home as well.”
During a multidisciplinary clinic visit, children and families see a variety of experts who focus on weight-loss needs. These include specialists in adolescent and children’s medicine, registered pediatric nurses, child and adolescent behavioral counselors, registered dieticians who specialize in pediatric weight loss, and exercise and training experts.
Loyola specialists work hand-in-hand with a child’s primary care physician, understanding he or she also is an important component to the child’s success.
“The epidemic of child obesity is too large for specialty clinics to face the challenge alone. Primary care physicians are also taking a larger role and we need their support,” he said
There is no quick fix to obesity. But the team at Loyola is dedicated to providing families with a program that will help them make better health decisions as a family now and into the future.
The program offers comprehensive treatment for patients, which includes assessment of family’s readiness for the program, physical assessment of the patient, development of a treatment plan, regular clinic visits over a 14-week period with individual as well as family counseling, individualized nutrition counseling, physical activity counseling and a meal-replacement plan, if needed.
It’s designed to help children and adolescents, age 6-18, who have a BMI greater than 99 percent, Type 2 diabetes, obesity-related hypertension, or obesity-related liver disease. The program also will accept children who do not meet the exact criteria with a recommendation from the primary care physician.