Monday, May 06, 2013

Announcing My Office's New Childhood Obesity Treatment Program with Two Huge Twists

I'm absolutely thrilled to announce that starting early this summer my office will be launching its own treatment program for children with obesity that we're calling Family Reset - and there are two huge twists.

The first - we won't be treating children. At least not directly.

I've always worried about the risks for children involved in weight management programs. I've worried about risks to their self esteem, body image and relationship with food and I've worried that they would feel, unfairly, as if their weight were their own faults. Consequently, Family Reset, an interdisciplinary year long program involving 6 months of unlimited access to registered dietitians, social workers, personal trainers and physicians, followed by 6 more months of careful follow-up with the same team, will be delivered exclusively to parents of children aged 13 and younger whose weights put them in the 85th percentile or higher. In so doing we'll be working hard to ensure that parents don't in fact download guilt or blame onto their children, but rather work with us to improve their entire family's healthy home environments hopefully without the child ever being aware of the intervention. And while children themselves won't be "treated" for their weight, they will however receive some group classes with a social worker with a special interest in children where the classes will focus on mental and social health and well being.

The highlights of our Family Reset program include the following:
  • All parents are followed by a physician.
  • All parents receive 6 months of unlimited one-on-one counselling from a registered dietitian, behaviourist and exercise specialist who will work on family health, parenting, nutrition, healthy active living and the cultivation of healthy attitudes surrounding weight and body image. Parents will continue to meet with all team members following those 6 months at prescribed intervals, but if the need arises, emergently as well.
  • All parents who themselves have overweight or obesity will be provided with BMI’s existing 6 month behavioural weight management program which also includes unlimited access to all team members, as well as on-site group fitness classes three times weekly for 6 months.
  • Five group classes for children, led by a specialized social worker/behaviourist with sessions focusing on self-esteem, anti-bullying, body image and stereotypes, depression, anxiety, and anger management. There will be no emphasis or discussion on weight at these meetings aside from how weight might play into the emotions and issues being discussed.
  • One group class for parents led by clinical psychologist on mental health issues and their impact on self-efficacy, stress management, self-esteem, relationships and their interplay with weight management.
  • One group class for overweight and obese adults led by a clinical psychologist on common psychological roadblocks to self-efficacy.
  • Ten hours of one-on-one therapy with a clinical psychologist for parents struggling with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety as improving the treatment of mood disturbances will likely improve those parents' interactions with their children
  • Monthly group fitness outings designed for families led by exercise specialists to introduce families to different active living options.
  • Two group cooking classes for all parents at a rented outside facility designed to teach basic cooking and meal preparation skills. Thanks too to the generosity of best selling cookbook authors Greta and Janet Podleski, each family will receive a free copy of their latest compilation The Looneyspoons Collection which was Canada's best-selling cookbook of 2012.
The second huge twist?

Our Family Reset program has been funded by Ontario's Ministry of Health, and consequently, despite the tremendous amount of resources being offered, won't be a financial burden. Our office is extremely humbled and honoured to be involved with this project and we would like to extend special thanks to Health Minister Deb Matthews for her consideration and for rapidly responding to Ontario's recent Healthy Kids Panel Report which called for further investment into treatment programs for children with obesity.

This pilot program will run for the next 3 years, support 375 families, and for Ottawa, will help to alleviate the current burden on CHEO's REAL program for children with obesity which in turn has a year long wait list, and stricter enrolment criteria.

If you have a child 13 and under whose weight places them in the 85th percentile (for an article on how to calculate this click here) or higher and would like to be considered for our Family Reset program please give our office a call at 613-730-0264, or send Caroline an email and we will add you to our list of interested parents and contact you sometime in the next 4-6 weeks to discuss next steps.

[Ottawan bloggers, facebookers and tweeters - would greatly appreciate it if you could share this post and spread the word.]