All Children’s Hospital’s Fit4Allkids Addresses Childhood Obesity by Making Family Education, Nutrition and Exercise Fun
The growing challenge of childhood obesity is a national issue facing families everywhere, including thousands in the Tampa Bay area. All Children’s Hospital is working collaboratively on multiple levels with community organizations and other health care providers to address obesity. From advocacy for the care that obese children need to multidisciplinary care that provides collaborative, aggressive care for obese patients, All Children’s Hospital is at the forefront of addressing childhood obesity and preparing kids for a healthier tomorrow.
One of the hospital’s most successful programs is Fit4Allkids, which was developed in 2004 by the hospital’s pediatric specialists to help kids, teens and families reach and maintain a healthy weight and body size and to be more active and fit. The hospital’s nutrition, fitness and motivational experts offer fun and interactive classes that encourage children and teens to do their personal best and reach their individual goals. The program received grant funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and was so successful that All Children’s Hospital has continued to support the program although the grant has expired.
Fit4Allkids is more than just weight management. Program experts see the value and importance of prevention for children of all ages, and strive to provide families with the latest information on nutrition, fitness, mental health and the most current trends.
There are three programs for residents to choose from, depending on the child’s age, family needs, and physician participation in the program: a physician office-based program for ages three and up, and group programs targeting ages 8-12 and teens ages 13-18. Both of the group programs include family sessions, goal setting, nutrition and physical activity information, materials and incentives to encourage participation. Each program involves working with a registered dietician, family coach, and fitness experts. Enrollment includes a temporary family pass to the YMCA for three months.
With ongoing support from the community and several partners, Fit4Allkids family programs are offered in four YMCA locations, including St. Petersburg, Largo, Clearwater and New Port Richey.
Fit4Allkids also offers the fun, hands-on Kohl’s Cooks for Kids family nutrition and cooking classes, which are a great way to get picky eaters to try new, tasty foods. The classes also show parents how to involve their kids in the kitchen and make mealtime family time.
Since cooking and food are such a big hit with the kids, Fit4Allkids has extended the concept and now provides hands on learning at aftercare centers and summer camps. All Children’s Hospital partners with Coordinated Child Care of Pinellas as well as the YMCA of the Suncoast to offer students ages 9 to 14 the opportunity to learn about healthy choices and making great tasting recipes the whole family will enjoy. The Let’s Eat! Student Enrichment Program serves hundreds of kids every year, introducing them to new foods and nutrition concepts.
Nearly 1,000 kids have participated in the Fit4Allkids Intervention program since it began. Participants report decreased blood pressure, which helps to improve their overall health and avoid possible onset of heart disease. They are making better choices, eating fewer high calorie and high fat foods and are more open to trying fresh, new, whole foods. Participants also report increased levels of fitness and activity, as they have fun playing and enjoying a new active lifestyle.