Many efforts taken during the COVID-19 pandemic to reduce transmission of the virus have also contributed to worsening obesity in children.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 1 in 5 children are obese, totaling approximately 12.5 million in the United States. These young patients are at an increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, osteoarthritis, sleep disorders, Type 2 diabetes and more. Obesity can also affect mental and emotional well-being through bullying, social exclusion and poor academic performance.
The UF Health Pediatric Weight Management Center offers patients with obesity a comprehensive, personalized treatment plan to achieve weight loss and reduce — or in some cases reverse — the complications associated with being overweight. This center provides individualized care to each child while working with the whole family to manage obesity and related health conditions.
The UF Health Pediatric Weight Management Center is ranked among the top three in the country for reducing body mass index and treating other obesity-related complications according to the Pediatric Obesity Weight Evaluation Registry, or POWER, which collects clinical data from pediatric weight management centers across the United States.
A holistic approach for long-term success
Because obesity can be a product of many factors — physical, genetic, mental and environmental — it takes a multidisciplinary team of specialists to treat patients, educate their families and maintain weight loss long-term. These providers include:
- Pediatric obesity medicine physicians
- Bariatric surgeons
- Physical therapists
New patients will undergo a medical evaluation, receive nutritional counseling and begin learning to modify eating behaviors. The center recommends a follow-up appointment within one to two weeks of the initial evaluation, followed by monthly appointments until a healthy body weight is achieved. A minimum commitment of three visits over the first six months is strongly encouraged to make effective, long-lasting lifestyle changes.
The UF Health Pediatric Weight Management Center treats children between 4 and 18 years of age with a BMI in the 95th percentile or higher, with or without these associated conditions:
- Acanthosis nigricans
- At-risk for Type 2 diabetes, prediabetes or diabetes mellitus
- Blount’s disease
- Disordered sleep such as sleep apnea or snoring
- Elevated liver enzymes or fatty liver disease
- Elevated triglycerides, high cholesterol or hypertension
- Polycystic ovary syndrome, infrequent or absent menstrual cycles
- Slipped capital femoral epiphysis, or SCFE
Providers are encouraged to refer any pediatric patient with severe obesity (BMI at or more than 99th percentile) or patient with obesity who is not losing weight through a physician-guided weight management plan. To make a referral, call 904-633-0920.