Pediatric Way to Optimal Weight

EMMC_WaytoOptimalWeight_WOWprogram.jpgThe Way to Optimal Weight (WOW) program uses a variety of approaches to help youth (age 15 months to 19 years old) who are carrying extra weight understand the nature of the disease of obesity. We teach young people and their family members how to enhance healthy eating habits, consider how their choices affect their health, and understand the circumstances that lead to choices – in a supportive and fun environment.

Over the past 30 years, obesity has become a major health concern in our communities, with dramatic increases across all age groups. Nearly 30% of Maine’s young people have overweight, and studies show that 80% of young people (age 10-15 years old) will go on to be adults with obesity. There are roughly 4.5 million children in the US with severe obesity – and with this diagnosis, a majority suffer from conditions related to being overweight, which results in health concerns as an adult.

Valerie O’Hara, DO, ABOM, and Starr Johnston, RN began the WOW program in the 2009. More than 800 children have been enrolled in WOW in the past 10 years – many families have participated in our local and national research and publications. 

What to expect 

Each child who enters WOW receives a complete medical evaluation and treatment for pediatric weight management, as well as the complications associated with obesity (things like pre-diabetes and diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, self-esteem issues, and others).

WOW is composed of four phases: 

  • Phase I - Eight weekly sessions

  • Phase II - Bi-weekly sessions for three months

  • Phase III - Monthly visits with the team for six months

  • Phase IV - Frequency is based on the patient’s specific health needs and any related cardio-metabolic complications

​All sessions include 30 minutes of fun physical activity directed by a personal trainer at the New Balance Recreation Center at UMaine, the Smith Center in Presque Isle, or the Downeast YMCA in Ellsworth. At each session, patients and their parent(s) see our nurse coordinator and a medical provider. During each WOW Phase, a registered dietician and psychologist are seen, with more frequent appointments if medically necessary. All team members have training and expertise in pediatric weight management. 

In this comprehensive, family-centered approach, we also offer ongoing support and education for parents as changes are made during each phase. Together, we can make a real difference in the lives of our patients and their families.

Would you like to get your child registered for the program? We accept referrals from primary care providers and specialists.

If you have questions, please call the us at (207) 581-4WOW (4969)

With support from:
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