Healthy Weight Initiative

Healthy Weight Initiative for Pediatric Obesity

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital offers a multi-level approach to pediatric obesity including the only pediatric weight management clinic on Florida’s west coast, our Healthy Steps clinic. Learn about our innovative approach and services within the Healthy Weight Initiative.

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A firm foundation for maintaining healthy weight, for life

Through the Healthy Weight Initiative, we offer a multi-level approach to one of the most complex healthcare challenges of our time: pediatric obesity. Our hospital offers state-of-the-art clinical care, the highest quality education for clinical providers, and the most innovative research and discovery efforts in the field of pediatric obesity. We also prioritize a culture of patient-centeredness and communication to allow children and families to feel supported at every step of weight management journey.

Our multi-disciplinary team of licensed clinicians work with families and children to help them lead healthier lives. We go beyond “quick diet fixes" and empower your child with life-long behavior change. We provide tailored recommendations appropriate to each child’s unique developmental, dietary, and lifestyle needs.

Explore family resources:

Whether you’re looking for information about the treatment of pediatric obesity or just learning about healthy lifestyle choices for you or your family, we have evidence-based options for all age-groups!  

Watch: The effects of hidden sugars in your food


Resources for All Ages

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Rethinking Your Drink 
What is Sleep Apnea?
Hunger vs. Fullness Cues
Hidden Sugars in Food
Beyond Body Weight: Bioimpedance Scale
FDA Salt Intake Guidelines Kids

Resources for Infants & Toddlers (Ages 0-4)

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Healthy Eating Habits in the First Year

Resources for Children (Ages 5-11)

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25 Healthy Snacks for Kids
Pediatric Nutrition and Autism Spectrum Disorder 

Resources for Teens & Young Adults (Ages 12-17)

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Healthy Lifestyle SMART Goals for Teens
What is Chrononutrition?
Why is Sleep Important for Teens?

How we help children facing weight challenges

Our clinical team provides individualized patient care within our Healthy Steps Clinic  based in St. Petersburg and are  offering virtual appointments, too! We serve children and young adults aged 0-21 years.

Our pediatric obesity services:

  • Comprehensive medical assessment 
  • Screening for weight-related medical issues including diabetes, hypertension, and liver disease among other issues 
  • Nutritional assessments
  • Behavioral and mental health assessments 
  • Physical activity assessments 
  • Assessment for appetite and disordered eating behaviors 
  • Referrals to other medical specialist as needed 

To schedule an appointment for the Healthy Steps Clinic, call 727-767-8917.

What is pediatric obesity?

Pediatric obesity, also called childhood obesity, is a medical condition where a child’s weight is higher than expected for their age and height. Obesity is a chronic disease that can result in metabolic, psychosocial,  and biomechanical health consequences if not addressed early and effectively. Obesity can become a lifelong disease impacting many areas of health and lifestyle, but it is very treatable when addressed early and with effective measures.

Nearly 1 in 3 children aged 2-18 years old currently meet criteria for being overweight, and approximately 1 in 4 children are currently obese.

What is the Healthy Weight Initiative doing to combat childhood obesity? 

The obesity epidemic has made it clear that we need to do more to support children and families in promoting healthy lifestyles. The JHACH Healthy Weight Initiative is here to support your and your child towards a healthier weight. 
We know that early prevention and intervention is key. But to create lasting change for your child's future, a patient-centered approach to this complex disease is critical. Your child’s unique food and activity preferences, family routines, and daily stressors are all factored in to provide a meaningful and lasting approach to a healthier lifestyle. 

The JHACH Healthy Weight Initiative team has implemented a multi-level approach to combat pediatric obesity. 

  1. Providing state-of-the-art clinical treatment options for patients with weight-related health issues 

  2. Educating and supporting clinical providers across specialties to know the latest clinical guidelines and treatment to care for pediatric patients with weight issues 

  3. Leading research and discovery in efforts to prevent and treat pediatric obesity 

Using this multi-level approach, we seek to advance the field of pediatric obesity medicine to move past the over-simplified and failed approach of “eat less and exercise more”. Instead, we strive to help you confidently move towards the weight and lifestyle goals that work for you and your child. 

Real patient outcomes

For the past decade, we’ve had the privilege of caring for patients with weight-related issues. Here are examples of some of our patient’s successful outcomes:

  • Improved self-esteem, confidence, and body image 
  • Improved appetite control and regulation strategies
  • Improved behavioral issues such as ADHD, anxiety, or depression 
  • Resolution of weight related issues including but not limited to: constipation, high cholesterol, prediabetes or elevated liver function
  • Enhanced understanding of appropriate physical activity goals
  • Weight loss or weight maintenance in more than 75% of patients seen in Healthy Steps Clinic

Education and training in pediatric obesity medicine 

At All Children’s, we are an academic institution offering clinical training to trainees and inter-professional staff, as well families and community audiences. We educate on key topics like weight management, pediatric obesity screening, and obesity prevention strategies. 

Consult our healthy weight resources for clinicians, or contact us to learn about training opportunities and our upcoming Thrive 4 Life virtual curriculum for children and families. 

Research and Discovery in Pediatric Obesity 

As part of Johns Hopkins Medicine, we are committed to advancing the field of pediatric obesity medicine using our outstanding team of clinical leaders and investigators based within our Institute for Clinical and Translational Research.  Using a collaborative approach between our nationally and internationally known basic scientists and clinical investigators, we are actively involved in a variety of research efforts focused on pediatric obesity prevention, diagnostics and treatment. Learn about our ground-breaking  PREDICT (Prospective Research on Early Determinants of Illness and Children's health Trajectories) study, one of the country’s only studies focused on identifying early life factors stemming in pregnancy that may be associated with weight-related and other health risks. 

Meet our team

Get to know our clinicians and read more about their clinical interests, research interests and publications.

Meet Our Specialists

Get to know our clinicians and read their recent articles.
Meet Our Team

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5 Easy and Healthy Back-to-School Breakfast Ideas

When there isn’t time to prepare a proper meal, it can be tempting to resort to unhealthy options. If making a healthy breakfast seems daunting as your family gets ready for back to school, a few tips can help families get on the right track. Hectic mornings don’t often leave time for a healthy breakfast, but it’s crucial that kids start their day with a balanced meal.

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Hunger and Fullness Awareness

Raquel Hernandez, M.D., M.P.H., and Samantha Toffoli, M.S., R.D.N., with the Healthy Weight Initiative, explain hunger and fullness cues and how these can help children and families develop a positive and healthy relationship with food.

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FDA Releases New Guidelines on Salt Intake

Raquel G. Hernandez, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, medical director of the Healthy Weight Initiative, talks about how the new guidelines differ from the past and what families should know about the update.

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Researchers Find Female Fat Distribution Patterns May Predict Future Health Problems

Efforts to prevent childhood obesity are a top priority at Johns Hopkins All Children’s.

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What Parents Need to Know about Childhood Obesity

Raquel Hernandez, M.D., discusses childhood obesity and some tips for families on maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

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