Nearly one-third of American children do not maintain a healthy weight. National research shows that of American children age 2 through 19 years old, 32 percent are overweight and 17 percent are obese. In Iowa, 25 percent of children are considered overweight or obese. We must identify abnormal weight gain before negative health consequences become irreversible. If not, today’s youth may be the first generation of Americans to live shorter, less healthy lives than their parents.

Children who struggle with being overweight or obese tend to carry this problem into adulthood, where excess weight dramatically reduces life quality and expectancy. As treatment and management of this complex problem in adults is extremely difficult, management of childhood weight is vitally important. A key step is the early identification of children who are overweight or obese so that they begin treatment early and attain a healthy weight sooner.

Cardio-Metabolic Clinic

The Cardio-Metabolic Clinic at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital was developed help children who with excess weight who also have an obesity related disease such as abnormal cholesterol levels, diabetes, liver disease, orthopedic problems, or psychological issues.

Children with a body mass index (BMI) that is greater than the 85th percentile for their age are considered overweight, and those with a BMI greater than the 95th percentile for their age are considered obese. You can calculate your child’s BMI if you know their weight and height. Your pediatrician or family medicine doctor can also help you decide if this would be beneficial for your family.

Excess weight affects nearly every system of the human body, so effective treatment requires an approach involving various types of specialized expertise.

Your Visit

Clinic visits are customized to provide each family with the most helpful assessment and treatment for them. 

  • During your visit, your child will be evaluated for diseases that can cause abnormal weight gain as well as for heart and metabolic issues caused by excessive weight by a pediatric cardiologist and a pediatric endocrinologist.
  • You will also meet other staff that may include nurses, an exercise physiologist, and/or a dietician depending on your needs.
  • A fitness assessment may be performed and dietary history will be reviewed.
  • Your family will receive information about healthy nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle changes to reverse excessive weight gain and its effects.
  • In addition to lifestyle changes, medications may be necessary to treat diseases such as high cholesterol or high blood sugar. 

How can families help?

One meaningful step parents can take is to follow healthful lifestyles themselves. Children need support systems and role models. If parents lead healthy and active lifestyles, their children are more likely to do the same. Eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly are key steps. Take a walk together after dinner, ride bicycles together, limit television and video game time, or do household or yard work chores together. Eat a healthy breakfast every day.

While these lifestyle changes sound easy to some people, they are extremely difficult for others. Our lives are busier than ever; family meals do not always happen and TV, cell phones, and video games have replaced exercise.

Be patient. Intense focus on eating habits and weight can backfire and might lead your child to overeat even more or become more prone to developing an eating disorder. Despite good intentions, some families continue to struggle. If your family is at that stage, involve your family physician who can screen for many related diseases and provide additional support, advice, and encouragement.

Health Information

Eating for a Health Heart, Diabetes Prevention, and a Healthy Weight

Locations and Contact

  • UI Health Care–Iowa River Landing
    105 East 9th Street
    Coralville, Iowa 52241
    Hours
    • Monday through Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
    Contact
    • Phone: 319-467-2000
    • Toll free: 855-467-3700

Care Team