Is the Healthy Weight Program Right for Your Patient?

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The Healthy Weight Program (HWP) is a multidisciplinary program that includes physicians, dieticians, exercise physiologists and behavioral health specialists. Our team’s mission is to help children with obesity, and their families, improve their health and quality of life through lifestyle changes and medical interventions.

Our goal is to prevent and treat chronic health issues related to, or impacted by, extra weight through realistic and sustained health behavior changes.

Family commitment critical to success

Our treatment approach requires a commitment from families to attend several clinic visits (usually scheduled monthly) as well as to provide the motivation and ability to implement recommended changes at home. For patients or families that are unable or unwilling to commit or engage in the program, a referral to Healthy Weight should be deferred until family is better able to benefit from what our program offers. Examples of this may include: new diagnosis of serious medical condition, eating disorder, untreated psychiatric disorder, ongoing family upheaval or recent trauma.

Families referred to the Healthy Weight Clinic will have separate or same day visits with a physician, dietician and exercise physiologist. Families referred to our program must be followed by a Healthy Weight physician to be able to receive other services provided by our program. At the initial visit, physicians will complete a full medical history, exam and a review of medical records and growth trajectories. If needed, further tests (metabolic screening, sleep study, genetics) are ordered. We review patient/family motivation, barriers to change, and create individualized goals and a follow-up plan.

Experienced physicians

All of our physicians have experience and expertise in weight management and have come to the program with varying training (primary pediatrics, endocrinology, GI/Nutrition). Our physicians are able to manage obesity-related comorbidities including: fatty liver, pre-diabetes, polycystic ovarian syndrome, insulin resistance and dyslipidemia, often preventing need for patients to see additional specialists for these related issues. In specific cases, and rarely at the initial visit, physicians may also prescribe weight-loss specific medications.

HWP physicians will collaborate with the patient’s primary care pediatrician and other specialists for ongoing support around other physical or mental health conditions that may impact their management plan. We aim for close and timely communication and a partnership in care.

We believe a child can be healthy at any weight and understand that weight is determined by myriad factors (genetics, psychology, hormones and societal factors), many of which are not within our control. We are careful to keep the focus on health and healthy behaviors, rather than the weight or BMI numbers, as this has been shown to have a more positive impact on self-esteem. Our team strives to use positive messaging and avoid weight stigma, and recommends that families and other care providers do the same.

Individualized goals, success

Our overall goals and definition of success within the program are individualized and rarely include weight loss. Success can be defined as:

  • Improvements in metabolic parameters
  • Improved family dynamics around food, exercise and weight
  • Improved nutrition quality
  • More regular exercise/movement
  • A healthier relationship with food
  • Resolution of emotional eating
  • Improved body image

Despite continued elevated BMI >85%, patients may be discharged from the program once patient and family have received the education our team has to offer. Repeat referrals may not be appropriate for obese, but otherwise healthy, children who are following a healthy lifestyle. For children with ongoing obesity-related conditions, visits are often spaced out once the patient is stabilized.