Spotlight: National Childhood Obesity Month

September is National Childhood Obesity Month. Speak Now for Kids is highlighting how Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH helps kids reach their healthy lifestyle goals.

Group exercise following a cooking demonstration at The Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition, Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Childhood obesity is a serious problem in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13.7 million children and adolescents are obese.

The Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital has helped children and young adults for over 14 years. The Center is a robust, tertiary care program, and its obesity care is focused on a multi-disciplinary treatment approach for medical and surgical weight management. It conducts nearly 5,500 weight management visits and sees more than 1,700 patients annually.

With programs for both the prevention and treatment of overweight children, the Center’s mission is to empower children and families to live a healthy lifestyle.

The Center’s team works together to incorporate quality clinical care, education, research and advocacy into their weight management programs.

“At our center we provide holistic care,” says Dr. Ihuoma Eneli, director, primary care pediatrics. “Our attitude is that we are about the whole child, not about weight alone.”

Community engagement plays a part too. The Center works closely with local public health departments and organizations like Local Matters, a non-profit that conducts healthy cooking classes that have benefitted kids like 13 year-old Xavier Hargrove,  a patient at the Center. 

 “The Center has really helped Xavier make better food choices” says Xavier’s mom Erica. “He loves participating in the cooking classes and experiments with healthy recipes that we incorporate into our family meals.”

“Xavier was eating meals outside of the home several times a week,” says dietitian, Ericca Lovegrove. “But he now has the skills and confidence to make healthy meals at home. He’s also been exposed to new fruits and vegetables that he discovered he really likes.”

Other children at the Center are learning to better balance sedentary screen time with physical activities. Nationally parents report that screen time is up among kids and activity is down due to the pandemic. Here are some helpful resources from the Center:

“We are vested in each child’s wellbeing, highlighting strengths, protecting them from bias and stigma, building resilience, supporting their families and offering the best possible lifestyle, medical and surgical treatment,” says Eneli.  “We do all this and try our very best to have fun as a team and with families along the way.” 

For more information, visit Nationwide Children’s Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition.


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