Children’s fitness clinic
opens at U.Va.
combat the problem of childhood obesity, the U.Va. Children’s
Medical Center has opened the Commonwealth of Virginia’s
first integrated weight-management clinic for children.
The Children’s Fitness Clinic will offer a comprehensive
medical evaluation and an intensive lifestyle-modification program
for overweight children and teens. The team administering this
care will include a pediatric endocrinologist and nephrologist,
an exercise physiologist, a nutritionist, a nurse practitioner,
a psychologist and a pediatric surgeon qualified to perform bariatric
“Our focus is not only on the medical problems associated
with childhood obesity, but also on providing an integrated program
to improve dietary habits, increase physical activity and build
esteem,” said Dr. Milagros Huerta, assistant professor
of pediatrics and co-medical director of the clinic.
After an initial evaluation at the Primary Care Center, patients
and their parents will be given the opportunity to participate
in a six-month lifestyle-modification program, held at the Kluge
Children’s Rehabilitation Center. This program will include
brief, individual follow-up visits with team members to monitor
the child’s progress, as well as weekly group sessions covering
different aspects of nutrition, physical activity and behavioral
modification. Patients who are unable to take part in the lifestyle-modification
program will receive periodic follow-up by phone or e-mail from
various team members. Medical follow-up visits will be determined
by the severity of the overweight status and the travel distance
for each patient.
“The hardest part is to work with the families closely,
to ‘convince them’ or ‘get them engaged’
in doing this, and [to provide] help along the road because any
behavioral change is difficult and takes a lot of effort and willpower
on their part,” Huerta said.
“Patients who are morbidly obese and who do not improve
with lifestyle modification may be referred for surgical consultation,”
The Children’s Fitness Clinic is open to children of all
ages. Most of the clinic’s patients will come by way of