Children who struggle with obesity may not be able to do the same types of physical activities as their peers, or may feel dizzy or winded when they do. When a child’s weight prevents him or her from enjoying activities with friends, professional help may be needed.
Significant weight gain in childhood can lead to physical illness and may cause social exclusion and low self-esteem, challenges faced daily by as many as one in five children in the United States. A child who has a body mass index, or BMI, at or above the 95th percentile is considered obese.
The UF Health Pediatric Weight Management Center provides a comprehensive and unique program that cares for patients ages 4 to 18 with obesity and related health issues. The program began three years ago and is part of a national registry of only 33 pediatric weight-loss centers. UF Health is ranked among the top three programs and first in the nation among centers that have a maximum of 150 patients.
Medical Director Madeline Joseph, MD, leads the multidisciplinary team of specialists at the center. The team includes a pediatric cardiologist, a certified nurse practitioner, a licensed psychologist and a clinical dietitian. Working together, a patient receives support and treatment for the various areas affecting his or her physical and emotional health.