Healthy Weight Clinic

The Healthy Weight Clinic helps improve the health and quality of life of children with excess weight. We assess weight-related medical issues and help children aged 2 through 18 manage their weight through a family-based approach that's customized for each child and his family.

Clinical pathways

Your child ideally completes three separate visits within about six weeks, meeting a physician or nurse practitioner, a registered dietitian, a physical activity specialist, a social worker and/or a clinical psychologist. After meeting each member of our team, the team will work with you to identify which pathway of treatment best suits you and your family.

There are five treatment programs your child could follow. We call them Pathways:

  1. Standard Pathway: Your child alternates between two visits with a registered dietitian and physical activity specialist, and one visit with a physician or nurse practitioner and social worker. This pattern alternates at a frequency (for example, every two weeks) that works well with your family.
  2. Preparing for Change Pathway: Your child has three to five visits with the clinical psychologist to prepare to make eating and physical activity changes. Your child may also meet with a registered dietitian or physical activity specialist and then move on to the Standard Pathway.
  3. Intensive Pathway: Your child comes to the clinic for 12 weekly visits, including group and individual sessions.
  4. Modified Pathway: Your child’s needs are accommodated if unable to fully participate in the Standard Pathway.
  5. Bariatric Pathway: This pathway is an option for eligible adolescent patients considering surgical weight loss options, while also working on healthy behavior changes. This pathway is a collaborative effort between CHOP’s Healthy Weight Program and Penn Medicine.

These descriptions serve as a guide. Your child’s Healthy Weight physician or nurse practitioner may recommend changes to any pathway to best meet your child’s needs.

Nutrition and physical activity

The Healthy Weight Clinic has an on-site fitness facility and teaching kitchen. These new facilities provide a space for healthy cooking demonstrations, practice of new skills, and individual and group physical activity sessions. Children and families will learn:

  • How to make healthy food choices and increase physical activity
  • How to be more aware of your habits by tracking eating and activity

Healthy behavior changes

The behavioral health providers at the Healthy Weight Clinic will help your family learn skills such as:

  • Setting limits in a positive way
  • Problem solving
  • Setting goals
  • Talking about healthy behaviors
  • Staying motivated

Body mass index

Body mass index (BMI) is used to determine a child’s weight status. It is not an exact measure of body fat, but a measure commonly used to approximate body fat. Using the child’s height and weight, a provider can calculate a child’s BMI by dividing the weight (measured in kilograms) by height squared (measured in meters). This BMI is then compared to a growth chart from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to match the child’s age and sex in order to obtain a BMI percentile.

Children’s BMI percentiles are classified as follows:

  • Underweight: BMI less than the 5th percentile
  • Healthy weight: BMI ranges from the 5th to less than the 85th percentile
  • Overweight: BMI ranges from the 85th to less than the 95th percentile
  • Obese: BMI is equal to or greater than the 95th percentile