UofL launches comprehensive childhood obesity program


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville Department of Pediatrics is weighing in on the obesity epidemic with a new multi-disciplinary program for overweight children.

    “Kentucky has more overweight children than 48 other states and this is making our children sicker. Young children with adult-type diabetes, serious cholesterol and blood pressure concerns, even sleep problems—these weight-related issues are becoming increasingly common among our patients. It became imperative to develop a program to help children and their families deal with this health scourge,” explained Gerard Rabalais, chairman of pediatrics.

    Healthy for Life! looks at weight problems from all angles. This comprehensive approach to weight loss begins with a complete health evaluation to identify weight-related health problems that require treatment.

    The team of specialists provides a customized care plan for each child and family. Options include referrals to medical specialists for related health problems, nutrition services, counseling for psychological issues, family support and exercise alternatives. Healthy for Life! offers an in-house program of weekly supervised exercise as well as referrals to community-based exercise programs like the YMCA.

    “A physician can’t just tell a parent that a child needs to eat less and exercise more. The problem is often much more complex, so we work to help families change their ways of thinking about food and activity,” explained Brooke Sweeney, the program’s medical director.

    The new program is housed in a unique, 4,000-square-foot space in the Children’s Hospital Foundation Building that was donated by Kosair Children’ Hospital. The space is outfitted with an open, centrally-located kitchen where a registered dietician offers cooking demonstrations, meal planning lessons and taste tests of healthy foods. In the play center, an exercise physiologist leads active play sessions using treadmills, exercise bikes and other active gear. There are also group therapy and private counseling rooms and three exam rooms.

    Clients of Passport Health Plan can be seen at Healthy for Life! at no cost. Services are also available to private-pay and privately-insured patients on a fee-for-service basis.