PreventObesity.net Leader Dr. David Scott is an exercise physiologist at Goryeb Children’s Hospital in Morristown, New Jersey. Dr. Scott is also the mind behind Goryeb Kid-FIT, a novel new initiative aimed at teaching children how to make healthier lifestyle choices.
“By recognizing the best time to develop and sustain healthy lifestyle behaviors is when we are children, I set out to create a pediatric program that would provide lifestyle modification interventions to families seeking guidance on how to live a healthier lifestyle,” said Dr. Scott.
The Goryeb Kid-FIT program was created to fill the need for weight management programs for children. While weight management programs for adults are popular and easy to find throughout the country, Dr. Scott noted that there is often a lack of programs available for children.
“There were no programs for patients under the age of 18, which is the critical time for developing healthy habits,” Dr. Scott said. “I spent six months researching programs from all over the world and focused specifically on why they failed.”
From there, the Kid-FIT program was born. The program is designed to provide a referral pathway for community pediatricians and hospital-based specialists for their patients, and is focused on improving lifestyle through enhancing children’s understanding of the importance of physical activity and nutrition.
Unlike most conventional programs, the Kid-FIT program has no end date. “From the beginning I realized we cannot expect learning to occur in a period of 12 weeks,” Dr. Scott explained. “In order for learning to occur we offer our program to each patient for as long as they need to learn and adopt the changes needed for them to live a healthier lifestyle.”
The program uses a unique approach, utilizing the BODPOD Gold Standard ADP system—a technology that allows doctors to measure body composition and helps track body mass and body fat percentage over time. Dr. Scott relies on seeing steady improvement in BODPOD readings for a patient to tell him when the learning and behavior modification process is completed, and he can be assured the patient will continue improving on his or her own. That process often takes longer than the 10-12 weeks most conventional programs ascribe to.
The Kid-FIT program was the first program in the U.S. to utilize the FDA-approved Bodymedia Sensewear system. This technology allows doctors to track patients’ sleep and activity, providing them a more complete picture of their lifestyle outside the clinic.
Each child undergoes an assessment of their current lifestyle, sleep patterns, physical activity levels and eating habits. After evaluating the data, the team – which includes an exercise physiologist and a registered dietician – will prescribe a treatment plan tailored to individual needs. The treatment plan may include exercise recommendations, nutrition planning, sleep assessments and counseling.
Nutritional behaviors are measured using frequent three-day food records. In terms of nutritional education, the program uses the Choose My Plate initiative to help children and families expand their awareness and consumption of healthier foods and beverages. The doctors meet with patients once a month to track progress, and make adjustments to the individual program as needed.
During the program, children learn what body mass index (BMI) and body fat percentage mean for their overall health. And they learn how nutrition and exercise impact their bodies in important ways. Dr. Scott’s goal is to maintain a comprehensive program to promote the health of every child that visits his office, and ensure each child leaves feeling more confident and healthy than when they started.
“Their confidence, self-esteem and body image are all enhanced by seeing they can change and be successful with losing body fat and developing a healthier body composition. They feel supported,” Dr. Scott explained. And most importantly, he said, “They smile!”