Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital

Healthy Weight Initiative

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital offers the only pediatric weight management clinic on Florida’s west coast. Learn about our clinically-based approach to fighting childhood obesity—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.

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.

How we help children facing weight challenges

Our clinical team provides individualized patient care within our Healthy Steps Clinic based in St. Petersburg but will soon be 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 All Children's medical 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 the next generation of clinical providers 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.

Obesity and healthy lifestyle resources

Watch: The effects of hidden sugars in your food

4 Pillars to a Healthy House

A central strategy to providing evidence-based approaches to healthier lifestyles rests in our “4 Pillars" approach. Though most families understand that diet and exercise are important to a healthier lifestyle, these are only half of the equation to successful weight management. Our team teaches the 4 Pillars to a Healthy Lifestyle and encourages a family-based approach to care whenever possible.

Four pillars to a healthy lifestyle and keeping your house upright!

  • Diet 
  • Exercise
  • Sleep
  • Behavioral health (mood, self-image, family dynamics)

Remember your healthy house!


Healthy eating downloads (PDFs)

9-5-2-1-0-Go! | En Español This Smart Choices Guide can help anyone start making changes in areas including diet, activity, sleep, and screen time. Go. Slow. Whoa! - Food Lists | En Español Our gold standard approach to filling up your pantry and refrigerator with healthier foods. Learn the foods that reduce risk for increased weight, prediabetes, diabetes, and cholesterol issues.

The Healthy Steps Weekly Food Journal | En Español
One of the first steps to improving eating behaviors is to take an inventory of what you/your child eat every day. Check out our food journal and give logging a try as a start to healthier eating!

25 Healthy Snacks | En Español
Learn healthy snack options that will satisfy you and your kids without increasing weight risk.

Foods That Fill You Up | En Español
Many of our patient families tells us, “Our child seems to always be hungry! We can’t seem to fill them up!”. Check out our list of foods that we know provide the right nutrients to improve appetite and also provide healthy calories along the way.

Online resource: Healthy Weight Toolkit

Our most comprehensive set of online resources organized by age group. It includes strategies on everything from fun physical activities, strategies for improving sleep routines and more.

Visit the All Children’s Healthy Weight Toolkit

Community wellness programs

From community scavenger hunts to kid-friendly culinary classes, our dieticians and specialists have developed a variety of family and community programs. We also offer school-based programming and tools for other health care providers to identify and support weight management in their own office.

View programs and services

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.

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. Click here to 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 as well as research interests and publications.

Your Guide To Care

Prepare for your child’s appointment at The Johns Hopkins All Children's Cancer & Blood Disorders Institute with our Guide to Care. The guide can help you:
  • Find tips on how to communicate with family and siblings
  • Keep track of appointment dates and medications
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Meet Our Specialists

Get to know our clinicians and read their recent articles.

Meet our Team

Visit the Healthy Steps Clinic

Call 727-767-8917 to schedule an appointment to see us in St. Petersburg.

Learn about a typical visit

Read more:

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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Could Your Healthy-Weight Child Be at Risk for Obesity?

A recent study by researchers at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital shows that when it comes to counseling for weight management, pediatricians and parents may be neglecting healthy-weight kids.

Read More