We believe we can change the future of Louisiana through coordinated care among parents, providers and kids.
The United States is facing a major public health crisis—an epidemic of obesity among children and teenagers. In Louisiana, the problem is especially serious, as the state is sixth in the country for childhood obesity. One in seven children ages 10 to 17 is obese, according to the National Survey of Children’s Health.
Obesity in childhood or adolescence can set the stage for an unhealthy future by increasing a young person’s risk for Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, arthritis, asthma, sleep apnea and other long-term health conditions. Then there’s obesity’s potential to affect mental health. Obese children and teenagers are more likely to experience anxiety and depression, and many face bullying from peers about their weight.
Obesity is complex because it can stem from genetics, maternal health, socioeconomic status and environment. Obesity requires a multifaceted solution, and that’s exactly what Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health works to deliver.
Recently, Katie Queen, MD, FAAP, and Ashley Lucas, MD, pediatricians with Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health, established a task force focused on providing a more systemic approach to diagnosing and treating patients with obesity.
“We envision a clinic that features general pediatricians, specialists and ancillary providers, such as dietitians and physical therapists,” Dr. Queen says. “Patients would visit monthly or bimonthly. We want this to be a one-stop destination where providers can refer children and teenagers to receive the all-around care they need while they remain connected to their medical homes.”
Currently, Dr. Queen partners with a dietitian to offer a monthly weight management program called Healthy Steps at her clinic. The clinic participates in a quality improvement project of the American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight to refine the way pediatric providers care for children with obesity.
Over 20 of our pediatric clinics across Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health participate in TEAM UP, a partnership with Pennington Biomedical Research Center to provide weight-management to children ages 6-15.
“Lecturing children that weight gain is going to lead to health problems isn’t an effective way to motivate them—they don’t think that far ahead. It’s best to stay positive and make healthier choices as a family, such as limiting fast food and screen time, and being active together.”
For Health and Home
Behind every pediatric obesity statistic is a child or teenager with dreams for the future. One of them is 16-year-old Bogalusa High School junior and ROTC member Creighton Woodward. His goal is to join the National Guard when he turns 17. That’s a stepping stone to his long-held ambition—joining the Army. He isn’t about to let his weight stand in his way.
“I used to be skinny and athletic, but then I started to eat a lot, and weight caught up to me around age 12,” Creighton says. “I would run out of breath easily when exercising, and sit-ups were difficult. When I learned high cholesterol and high blood pressure would restrict me from entering the Army, that motivated me to bring my numbers down.”
Creighton began attending the monthly Healthy Steps weight management program. He learned how to make healthy changes to his lifestyle, and he keeps dietary and physical activity logs to track his progress. After losing weight and getting his blood pressure under control, his chances of being able to join the Army have improved.
“You can do anything you put your mind to,” Creighton says. “You may think you can’t do something, but your body can.”