Weight Management (HEROES)

Is your child struggling with weight management? The Healthy Eating with Resources, Options, and Everyday Strategies (HEROES) program at Children’s Hospital and Medical Center can help.

Today’s kids are more likely to be overweight than ever before. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of American kids who are considered obese, or having excess body weight, has more than tripled since the 1970s. About 1 in 5 school-aged kids is considered obese.

Being overweight or obese as a child is more than a cosmetic issue. Overweight and obese children are more likely to develop a variety of other health problems, including asthma, type 2 diabetes, early heart disease, sleep apnea, and bone and joint issues.

They’re also more likely to be bullied, to suffer from social isolation, and to be depressed. They might have lower self-esteem and are more likely to develop chronic health problems as adults.

Make An Appointment

Make An Appointment

Ask your child’s pediatrician for a referral to the HEROES program. Once we receive the referral, we will call you to schedule an appointment. Call for questions about the program or requirements for participation.

Omaha HEROES Clinic 402-955-4080
Lincoln HEROES Clinic 402-955-8770

There are a number of factors that contribute to childhood obesity. These include:

  • Eating behaviors: Eating a diet that includes a lot of fatty and sugary foods makes it easy to take in excess calories, resulting in weight gain.
  • Lack of physical activity: Kids today spend more time on screens and less time moving their bodies, which can contribute to becoming overweight.
  • Genetics: Though genetic causes of obesity are rare, in some cases, children may need additional testing to see if their DNA may be contributing to excess weight gain.
  • Environmental factors: Lack of access to healthy, nutritious food ups the risk of becoming overweight, as does a lack of opportunities to be outside and active.
  • Psychological factors: Just like some adults, kids might use food for comfort when they’re anxious, sad, or depressed. This can make them more likely to gain weight.

At Children’s, we’re combating obesity through a program designed to treat each child as an individual and takes a multi-specialty approach to weight management.

What Sets HEROES Apart?

A community survey found that there are about 30,000 kids who are overweight or obese in Douglas County alone. HEROES was developed to help children in the Omaha area.

HEROES is not a diet program. We focus on pediatric weight management. In some cases, that may mean helping your child lose weight. Or it may mean stabilizing your child’s weight gain to let her height catch up.

Our program is the only medically managed program in the area. We do more than just help your child achieve a healthier body weight. We also treat other conditions that are caused by excess weight — like diabetes, early heart disease, and bone and joint problems.

“You make me feel comfortable and not self-conscious about my weight and the way I look.”

—HEROES participant

How HEROES Works

Your child’s needs are unique and our team of experts understands that. We’ll work with you and with your family to determine how to best help your child. We provide a range of support services and care to children of all ages, including:

  • Nutrition status evaluation and planning: Our registered dietitians analyze your child’s current diet, make suggestions about how to improve it, and help you plan for success.
  • Behavioral modification counseling: If your child is used to reaching for a snack when bored or anxious, they might need help creating new habits. Our behavioral health service team will help your child — and your family — adopt healthier habits that will become automatic over time.
  • Fitness assessment and activity guidance: Our exercise physiologist will help determine your child’s fitness level, suggest activities that he may enjoy, and encourage him to move more.
  • Help identify your child’s barriers to success: Every child’s home environment is different. What may be getting in the way of her making healthier choices? Our social workers will help determine what these obstacles may be and come up with strategies to overcome them.
  • Assessment and treatment of obesity-related health issues: We’ll assess and evaluate your child’s overall health and work with our physicians, nurses, and other medical providers to provide customized care.
  • Access to HEROES fitness and education classes: These classes are separate from the HEROES clinic and available to our patients and their families for an additional sliding-scale fee. Classes meet once a week for 8 weeks and include exercise, nutrition, behavioral modification, and goal-setting components. Siblings are welcome to work out too.

Our Specialists

Cristina Fernandez, M.D.

Pediatrics
Weight Management

Karla K. Lester, M.D.

Weight Management

What To Do Next

For Patients

Want more information about the HEROES program? Ask your child’s pediatrician or family doctor to refer you to the program, and someone from our staff will call you to schedule an appointment.

You can also call either location to learn more about how our program works and how it can help your child. However, you will need a referral from your child’s doctor to participate in the program.

Once your child’s physician refers them to HEROES, you can attend a parent information meeting at the Lincoln location to learn more about the program, what it entails, and what’s expected of you and your child in order to achieve a healthier lifestyle. You’ll receive an invitation to one of these meetings after your child is referred to the program.

For Referring Providers

In order to be referred to the HEROES clinic, patients must meet one of the following requirements:

  • BMI > 85th percentile with co-morbidities
  • BMI > 95th percentile alone

For referral criteria or to discuss options for management of high-risk patients, you can reach the Omaha HEROES Clinic at 402-955-4080, or the Lincoln HEROES Clinic at 402-955-8770.

Download our physician referral form. Please fax your completed form to the appropriate clinic location.

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