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Combatting Childhood Obesity with the Kid-Fit Program

March 15, 2017

From the Spring 2017 issue of AtlanticView Kids:

If your son or daughter suffers from a weight issue, there’s hope. The Kid-Fit Program at Goryeb Children’s Hospital at Morristown Medical Center aims to help families manage the challenges associated with children who are overweight.

“The most common cause of obesity is the lifestyle choices we make,” says Melissa Woo, MD, the program’s medical director. “So kids in the overweight category work with an exercise physiologist and a nutritionist to help make them aware of healthier options.”

Children in the Kid-Fit Program start with a body composition assessment, using an air displacement module called the BOD POD®. “Air displacement plethysmography is currently the gold standard in body composition technology,” says David Scott, coordinator for pediatric exercise physiology. “The kids think it’s some kind of space module. That gets them very enthusiastic about it. Unlike a regular scale, the BOD POD breaks down the child’s weight into lean muscle mass and total body fat to 100 percent accuracy.”

Scott says patients do the assessment every one to two months to track changes in their body composition. “We actually tell parents to stop weighing their kids at home, a regular scale doesn’t provide insight into what is causing potential changes in their child’s body weight. The BOD POD allows us to determine if a weight gain is positive from muscle-based growing activity, or negative body fat-based.”

Jane Harrington-Noonan, the registered dietitian for the Kid-Fit Program has families complete a three-day food record before their initial visit to provide insight into current food behaviors. “A patient’s food record allows me to assess the food preferences, eating schedule and food triggers. This insight allows me to identify what foods they like and what tastes they are already going toward, so it’s not such an extreme change when we’re making goals,” she says. “Our goal with each family is to identify areas for improvement – for example, reducing the amounts of unhealthy foods in snack choices – through providing families with the tools needed to make healthier choices.”

Dr. Woo says by making changes to their lifestyle, children can avoid many of the complications that come from excess body fat.

“The rate of type 2 diabetes in pediatrics has increased significantly in the past 10 to 15 years, as the obesity epidemic has risen,” she says. “These children are also at risk for developing high cholesterol as well as hypertension. Children who carry excess fat often have orthopedic issues starting at an earlier age.”

A new medically supervised program, Kid-Fit Med, is also in the works. Led by a team of doctors, nurses, social workers, registered dietitians and exercise physiologists, the program will address weight management and complications such as prediabetes, PCOS and other medical problems associated with excess fat, with lifestyle modifications and if needed appropriate medications.

For more information on Kid-Fit, call 973-971-8824.