Weight management for the whole family

Doctors and registered dietitians designed the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital Healthy Weight Program for Children and Teens to meet the specific needs of children with the medical problems of overweight or obesity. We help children ages 15 months to 18 years to reach their weight loss goals.

We focus on changing behaviors for the whole family, such as:

  • Smaller portion sizes
  • Being physically active
  • Less screen time (cell phone, video game, computer and TV)
  • Fewer sugary drinks  

At your first visit, one of our clinicians will examine your child and check for weight-related diseases. We will then create a weight management program focusing on improving the health of your child and family.

The doctors and staff at our Healthy Weight Program for Children and Teens offer a range of treatments for children and teens who have overweight or obesity. We stress prevention and obesity-related health care, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Elevated insulin
  • Pre-diabetes
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heartburn/Reflux
  • Fatty liver disease
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
  • Deconditioning (shortness of breath with activity)
  • Sleep apnea

Your child will work with a doctor or physician assistant in our office. Depending on health problems, mental health issues and insurance coverage, we may connect you with our dietitian, therapist and/or exercise specialist, who are all a part of our team. If your child has a psychiatrist and/or therapist, we will work with them to ensure the best care possible.

Why Choose Penn State Health Children's Hospital for Care?

Quality care from an Expert Team

Our program’s success greatly relies on you and your family supporting your child. We’ll share advice to improve your child's health, such as eating healthier and getting more physical activity.

We focus on helping you and your child to:

  • Make healthier food choices
  • Reduce portion sizes
  • Be more physically active
  • Make positive behavior changes

What to expect at your first visit

On your child’s first visit to our Healthy Weight Program for Children and Teens, a doctor or physician assistant will:

  • Take a complete medical and family history
  • Examine your child
  • Review lab tests (ordered by your child’s regular doctor)

During your visit, we’ll suggest ways to reduce portion sizes and be more physically active. This first visit will last about an hour and does not include shots.

Nutrition counseling

Treatment focuses on changing your child’s and family's diet. After talking about your child’s current eating habits with your doctor, we’ll provide recommendations on how to change your child's dietary intake. Families may meet privately with a dietitian to discuss how to make positive lifestyle changes. Look for recipe ideas here.

Physical activity training

Our program will recommend more physical activity and less inactive activities, (cell phone, video games, computer games and TV) for your child and the whole family.

Here are some basic guidelines for all children and teens:

  • Get at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day.
  • Slowly build up aerobic exercise (walking, jogging, dancing, treadmill).
  • Limit screen time (TV, computer games, and cell phone) to less than two hours per day.
  • Avoid watching the screen while eating meals and snacks.

Referring Physicians

  • Referrals are accepted for patients 15 months to 18 years of age
  • We must receive lab work (including fasting glucose, LFTs, insulin and HA1c) for all children six years old and older, prior to scheduling the first appointment
  • We use an evidenced-based algorithm based on lab work and comorbidities to determine which patients will qualify for an appointment

Patient Education and Resources

Find education and resources for Healthy Weight Program for Children and Teens at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.

Children's Hospital Resources

Learn more about children’s weight loss at the links below:

Other Patient Resources

Find more resources for children’s weight loss below:

Nutritious and Affordable Snacks

It’s important to keep nutritious snacks around to keep for you and your children healthy. Here are some  delicious and nutritious ideas:

  • Any fresh vegetable with hummus
  • Bananas
  • Honeydew melon
  • Cottage cheese
  • Nectarine
  • Oatmeal (slow-cooked, not instant)
  • Greek yogurt
  • Apples
  • Sliced red or green pepper
  • Almonds
  • Baby carrots
  • In-shell pistachios
  • Hard boiled, scrambled or fried eggs
  • Watermelon
  • Grapes (freeze them for a different taste)
  • Sunflower and Pumpkin seeds
  • Cucumber
  • Organic microwave popcorn
  • Organic string cheese
  • Edamame (dry roasted)
  • Fresh or frozen berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries)
  • Cherries
  • Dried apricots, pears or apples
  • Sliced jicama
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Sugar snap peas
  • Radish
  • Tuna fish in a lettuce wrap