HEALTHY 4 LIFE CLINICFor children and adolescents
The Healthy for Life Clinic is the Eastern Panhandle’s resource for children and adolescents who want to reach and maintain a healthy weight, and establish healthy habits that will reduce their risk of metabolic complications throughout the teen years and into adulthood.
Our pediatrician cares for children and adolescents who have other medical conditions that are related to weight gain, like hypothyroidism.
Our well-rounded team assists each patient in developing an individualized, evidence-based treatment plan.
Learn more about our clinic and the services we offer children and adolescents below:
ABOUT THE CLINIC
Half of the fifth graders in West Virginia are at a healthy weight, which means that the other half are overweight or obese.
Many children with obesity are already developing insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure, which put them at risk for diabetes and heart disease as they become adults. They are also at risk of low self-esteem and joint problems.
What can we do?
Changing habits, using the four pillars as a foundation, can help children establish healthier habits in nutrition, physical activity, sleep, and stress reduction. We work with the whole family to make these changes. Children are not able to change their environments on their own. These changes are most effective when the whole family participates.
How do we make change happen?
We listen to your family’s preferences and challenges, and we create an individualized plan based on your child and your family. Our team includes a pediatrician, a nurse practitioner, and a psychologist who work with your family and your child’s support system. We can see our patients every two to four weeks for up to six months, as we help families make small, long-lasting changes at each visit.
Is weight loss the goal?
In a growing child, weight loss is not necessarily the goal. Simply stopping weight gain and maintaining a stable weight while a child grows taller will change the body‘s proportion in a healthy way. In children who have had excessive weight gain, a modest weight loss of one to two pounds per week may be recommended.
What other medical conditions do we treat?
Our pediatrician is able to treat medical conditions that are associated with weight gain and obesity, including pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, hypothyroidism, and polycistic ovary syndrome. For pediatric patients with more complex endocrine issues, collaboration with or referral to an endocrinologist may be necessary.
All children need healthy food to give their bodies nutrition for growth and brain development. We want all children to be in the habit of eating vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, nuts, and whole grains every day so that they will eat these foods into adulthood. We work with families to replace high calorie processed foods with more nutritious whole foods. We also encourage families to eliminate extra sugars from their foods. We support families as they prepare healthy meals at home that the whole family can enjoy.
Sweet drinks are a source of extra sugar that children do not need. We recommend that children avoid sugary drinks like soda, sweet tea, sports drinks, and juices. Instead of drinking apple juice, it is healthier to eat an apple. Instead of drinking Gatorade after physical activity, it is better to drink water. Children can drink two cups of milk each day.
Children who have developed insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, or type 2 diabetes may need to be on a lower carbohydrate diet.
Young children seem to always be active, but teenagers will sit and look at electronics for hours. We recommend that everyone is active for 30 to 60 minutes per day. We work with families to find ways to incorporate more movement into each day. Not all children are interested in joining a sports team. Some children are too young to join a gym. Fortunately, there are many ways to be physically active.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends nine to 11 hours of sleep per night for elementary and middle school children, and eight to 10 hours per night for teenagers. Establishing healthy sleep habits at a young age can prepare a child for a lifetime of good sleep. A bedtime routine can include a bath or reading time to prepare for bed at a consistent time each day. Turning off all electronics an hour before bedtime helps children fall asleep more easily.
Most teens are not getting enough sleep, and this can impact them in many ways. Obesity increases when the body clock is not functioning on a regular schedule. Lack of sleep also causes decreased school performance and increased irritability. We recommend that teens “park” their electronic devices in a common area of the house an hour before bedtime, and keep the devices out of the bedroom all night.
If you have concerns about your child snoring or having difficulty breathing during the night, let our team know. Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition that frequently disrupts sleep in children with obesity.
Increased levels of stress can lead to weight gain and high blood glucose levels.
We all have stress in our lives, and our children do too. How does your child handle his or her stress? When children have experienced painful events in their lives, like divorce, violence, or serious illness, it is important for them to find ways to work through their strong feelings about these events.
We work with children and families to find healthy ways to release the stress. Some ways children can release their stress include physical activity, talking, drawing, journaling, and singing. Our psychologist is available to help children who need expert help to develop their coping skills.
MAKE AN APPOINTMENT
WVU Medicine Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Health and Healthy for Life Clinic for Children and Adolescents
1001 Sushruta Drive
Martinsburg, WV 25401
Office – (304) 597-5038
Fax – (304) 596-0025
University Healthcare Physicians
WVU Health Science Center- Eastern Division
2500 Foundation Way
Martinsburg, WV 25401
Sarah Moerschel, MD, FAAP
Pediatrics, Obesity Medicine
Jon Deiches, PhD.
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