Going to the doctor for diagnosis, treatment and medication is part of normal life, as we all get sick and doctors are there to help us feel better. However, primary care physicians, along with nutritionists and dietitians can play a big role in the lives of their patients, especially the patients who struggle with maintaining a healthy weight.
Ongoing statistical analysis shows that more than 35 percent of the United States population is considered obese, which presents a major public health concern. So much so that the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) listed obesity as an American epidemic. About one in three, or 17 percent, of American children and teens are overweight or obese. Among children, obesity causes a broad range of health problems, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and even elevated cholesterol levels. There are also psychological effects that obesity can cause for children, including low self-esteem, negative body image, and depression. It is often hard to imagine making drastic lifestyle and diet changes for you and your family, but being on a nutritional diet plan has its rewards. Staying on this type of diet can be the hard part, especially if you don’t have the right resources and experts, along with the motivation to guide you towards a healthier life.
Why is a Balanced Diet and Nutrition Important?
Good nutrition is vital to successful weight loss and management, and for better overall health. Several benefits of good nutrition are: improvement in cholesterol, reduction of high blood pressure (hypertension), and increase in overall energy. Some of the popular diets suggest eliminating certain food groups while others suggest taking mega-doses of vitamins, but the real key is balance and moderation.
A balanced diet is important because your organs and tissues need proper nutrition to work effectively. Without good nutrition, your body is more prone to disease, infection, fatigue, and poor performance. Children with a poor diet run the risk of growth and developmental problems, and poor academic performance. Bad eating habits can persist for the rest of their lives.
A healthy diet will help to prevent certain long-term (chronic) diseases such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. The USDA reports that four of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are directly influenced by diet, which are heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes.
The importance of choosing the right doctor:
A dietitian or nutritionist is more likely to be the better choice when dealing with weight loss and weight management, rather than a primary care physician, as dietitians have spent more time learning about nutrition than any other health care provider. These doctors are food and nutrition experts and educators, who understand the science behind nutrition and know how to distinguish facts from fads. Forming a healthy weight loss regimen is what these doctors do, helping you and your family members with dietary tips, what type of food you eat, portion control, and exercise.
Along with diet, an exercise plan is essential to optimize weight-loss. Your doctor can assess how much physical fitness children and teenagers should have on a daily basis. A good dietician will help you set long-term and short-term goals for you and your loved ones, and do everything they can to help you reach those goals. Setting reasonable, achievable goals is crucial to not becoming discouraged during what can sometimes be a difficult process for kids. The importance of choosing the right doctor is crucial, as motivation is the key to success.
What is the Health and Nutrition Direction HAND Pathway?
Endocrine Kids believes that weight management in children and adolescents requires ongoing guidance and encouragement to make lifestyle changes that can last a lifetime. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach to patients as is often seen in weight programs, and every diet does not work for everyone.
The Health and Nutrition Direction (HAND) Pathway is Endocrine Kid’s approach for managing weight gain and obesity in children and adolescents. We offer tools to help families achieve lifestyle changes directed at slowing weight gain or promoting weight loss. Our HAND Pathway clinicians will determine the appropriate goals for the child based on evaluation of age, growth velocity and rate of weight gain.
At Endocrine Kids, we are sensitive to the psychosocial and physiological needs (Exercise programs, calorie and carbohydrate reduction) of our young patients, believing that success comes from a family-centered team approach. Our goal is to provide customized medicine and individualized guidance to help patients achieve their healthy weight. We believe that incentives can be a powerful motivator for children to change lifestyle habits, and incorporate them into goal setting.
The HAND Pathway includes:
- Private evaluation and ongoing management by our medical provider who specializes in childhood obesity and metabolic diseases
- Consultation with our pediatric dietitian
- Lab evaluation on site, if necessary
- Treatment of obesity-related disorders including metabolic syndrome, glucose intolerance, diabetes, PCOS, etc.
We encourage families to join us on the road towards excellent health, as the HAND Pathway is designed to teach the necessary skills needed, through motivation and incentives, to achieve our patient’s long-term and short-term goals. This often cannot be accomplished in a set number of visits. The HAND Pathway works with you to set and reach goals at a pace that you feel is effective.