Fit Kids Healthy Improvement Program
Through the Fit Kids Healthy Improvement clinical program, Fit Kids of Arizona helps children and their families develop healthier lifestyles through education and family goal setting. Our team seeks to look at all possibilities for why a child has extra weight and gives families the tools they need to improve their health. Fit Kids doesn’t put kids on diets, exercise regimens, prescribe medication or expect rapid improvements; the program is about educating and supporting families in making small, consistent healthy changes that will last a lifetime.
Approximately 60 percent of children who have participated in the Fit Kids clinic have seen improvement in their Body Mass Index (BMI, a number determined by a child’s height and weight) percentile or weight and in their cardiovascular fitness. Additionally, many children who were diagnosed as pre-diabetic when they started the program are no longer pre-diabetic after participating.
The Fit Kids team approach
• Counselor: Completes a behavioral health assessment and, working with the family, develops a treatment plan to address concerns such as self-esteem, identifying feelings and emotions, dealing with bullying and improving communication.
• Exercise physiologist: Provides the child with opportunities for physical activity during their appointment and works with families to integrate physical activity into their everyday lives.
• Registered dietitian: Provides families with nutrition education and helps set goals for eating healthier as a family. Families also have the opportunity to take cooking classes and go on grocery shopping tours.
• Nurse practitioner: Performs a complete assessment of the child’s medical history and a physical examination to determine if he/she can participate in the Fit Kids program. Limiting findings would be heart murmurs or muscular/joint concerns that may need further specialty follow up. Family medical history is also completed to determine long-term health risks and laboratory results are discussed in detail, so parents and kids understand what issues may be occurring inside their bodies because of an unhealthy weight.
Admission to the program
To qualify, a child must be younger than 18 years old with a BMI greater than the 85th percentile. For children, BMI is placed on a growth curve to give them a percentile ranking, which compares them to children of their same age and gender. Having a BMI greater than the 85th percentile has been associated with serious current and future health problems including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, some cancers, sleep apnea and liver disease. For more information about BMI, visit www.cdc.gov/healthyweight.
Some children are referred to Fit Kids by their physician or school nurse; however, a referral is not needed to participate. If families are interested in the program, they can contact Fit Kids of Arizona to set up an initial screening appointment with the nurse practitioner.
Parents/guardians are required to attend appointments with their child. Family members and siblings also are encouraged to attend, since making healthy changes is a family effort.
In the first appointments, families will meet with each member of the Fit Kids team to discuss information about the child’s health, areas they would like assistance on improving and how the Fit Kids team can best help. Follow-up appointments typically occur every two weeks to discuss goals, action plans and progress. Attending appointments on a regular basis is important, since frequent follow-up care helps to bring about long-term change.
Our program is set up as a minimum six-month program, with graduation after kids demonstrate healthy improvement and participate in frequent follow-up office visits. All program graduates are recognized with an end-of-program medal and certificate of accomplishment. Graduation takes commitment and hard work. Are you ready to make healthy changes?
Insurance and payments
Fit Kids is committed to making this program available to those who need it. Our clinical program is available at no out-of-pocket cost to families. Health insurance is not necessary to participate; however, if available, we will bill insurance companies as appropriate.
If you are reading this, hopefully you will be coming to our Fit Kids program soon. You may be wondering what is going to happen at your appointments. When you and your parents come to the clinic, you will get a chance to meet all the members of the Fit Kids team.
• A nurse practitioner will talk to you about your health and perform a physical exam. They will take your blood pressure and listen to your heart. They might even let you listen, too! They may ask you to walk or hop around – this is so they can determine if your bones and joints are moving properly. They also will talk with you and your parents about the blood tests that you had done before you came to visit us. Don’t worry, you won’t see any more needles while you are here.
• A dietitian will ask about your eating habits. They will want to know all about your favorite foods, how many meals and snacks you eat per day and what meal time is like in your house. They will not put you on a “diet,” but will talk about the types of foods that you eat and how they make you feel. They also will encourage your family to sit down and eat meals together.
• The exercise specialist will check your muscles. They may ask you to perform a fitness test. They will talk to you about what kinds of activity you do now, as well as how much time you spend watching TV or movies and playing video games. They will make a plan to help you find ways to have fun doing more activities.
• A counselor will ask you about your feelings and attitudes. They will talk to you about your friends and family, school and your role models. They will work on things like bullying, self-esteem and body image.
Resources just for kids!
We want you to have fun at Fit Kids and also be healthy! By participating in the Fit Kids clinical program, you’ll have access to:
• Activities such as walking groups; hikes; Zumba, CrossFit and self-defense classes; healthy cooking classes and more
• Summer camps for Fit Kids that offer hiking, swimming, rock climbing, dance and more
• FREE Arizona collegiate and professional sporting event tickets (as available)
• Monthly contests for rewards and recognition