The statistics are disturbing: Just under 20 percent of children, adolescents, and teens are classified as obese. And that percentage is on the rise.
This puts children and teens at risk for problems that were once diagnosed almost exclusively in adults, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and high cholesterol.
Healthy LifeWays: Valley’s Center for Pediatric Wellness and Weight Management provides a comprehensive program of medical and behavioral health care, nutrition services, and family support to help overweight and obese children and teenagers lose weight, improve their health, and reduce their risk of developing chronic illnesses.
As founder and director of Healthy LifeWays, pediatrician and obesity expert Dr. Sherry Sakowitz-Sukkar takes a family-oriented approach. During a 12-week program, she advises families to focus on healthy living.
“If a parent is nervous about a child’s weight, say, ‘We’re going to start eating healthier in the house.’ Don’t direct it toward the child. Everyone in the house should be living the same healthy lifestyle,” she said.
Dr. Sakowitz-Sukkar recently acquired a high-tech new tool to help motivate her young patients. The Styku 3D Body Scanner performs a body scan in seconds that can show the changes in someone’s body shape and dimensions as their body responds to fitness and nutritional guidance.
“My patients love it. It is a very effective motivational tool,” Dr. Sakowitz-Sukkar said.
She emphasizes that the focus of her program is not on dieting. “You should have rules about being a healthy household, not a dieting household,” she says.” My goals are for my patients to be healthy, feel good about themselves, and develop healthy habits. I teach them to look at food differently with a focus on quality, not quantity.”
Healthy Lifeways is designed for children and young adults classified as obese, meaning that they have a body mass index at or above the 95th percentile. Children who are at or above the 85th percentile and also have an associated medical risk or family history of chronic disease, such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, or obstructive sleep apnea, can also join Healthy LifeWays.
“By personalizing our program to fit the needs of each individual child and family, we aim to help each child attain weight-loss success and reduce the risk of serious chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension, and accompanying psychosocial disorders, including depression, stress, and bullying,” said Dr. Sakowitz-Sukkar. “The time to stop obesity is before a teenager reaches adulthood because almost all chronic diseases are associated with obesity, and they often begin in childhood.”
Healthy LifeWays is located in Valley’s state-of-the-art medical office at 140 East Ridgewood Avenue in Paramus. To make an appointment with Dr. Sakowitz-Sukkar, or for more information about Health Lifeways, call 201-316-8438.