Tag Archives: Boys Town National Research Hospital

2018 March of Dimes Nurse of the Year

January 16, 2019 by

Nursing is the largest profession in health care, and one of the most recognizable.  Professionals from psychiatrists to surgeons use nurses each day to help care for patients with tasks from administering medicines to handing them tools of their trade.

Nurses labor tirelessly, often for 12 or more hours at a time. On Nov. 15, 2018, the March of Dimes took an evening to thank those vital professionals taking vital signs, and Omaha Magazine was in attendance as an event partner.

Nominations are blinded, then scored by the volunteer committee. Scores were based on credentials, certifications, their proudest outcomes, leadership, professional associations, and achievements. The Nurse of the Year is determined by the nurse with the highest overall score.

We again thank the nurses nominated for the March of Dimes awards, for taking care of us, each and every day.

Nurse of the Year Committee

Nicole Caswell, CHI Health Immanuel

Teresa Hultquist, UNMC College of Nursing

Cindy Mirfield, Methodist Women’s Hospital

Wendy Muir, Bryan Health

Christine Murphy, Nebraska Medicine

Sue Nuss, Nebraska Medicine

Melissa Schmaderer, Madonna Rehabilitation Center

Kris Stapp, VNA

Lisa Strasheim, CHI Health

Judy Thomas, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center

Judy Timmons, Children’s Hospital & Medical Center

Susie Ward, Methodist College

Chrissy Wilber, Boys Town National Research Hospital

March of Dimes Staff

Mackenzie Hawkins, Development Specialist

Kristin Schemahorn, Development Manager

Kristina Debus, Development Manager


Nurse of the Year

Jean Armstrong-Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital, Family Resource Center and Shaken Baby Task Force

Jean Armstrong has been devoted to creating and implementing a Shaken Baby Task Force. She has developed an educational curriculum, organized a conference, and created multiple educational videos. Her efforts were first recognized on a national level in 2000 when First Lady Laura Bush made a stop at her hospital.

Armstrong has helped Iowa Senator Amanda Regan support Senate Bill 349 to establish a Shaken Baby Syndrome Prevention Program through the Iowa Department of Health.

This Nurse of the Year was also instrumental in creating the only national 24-hour Crying Baby Helpline in the U.S.

 

Rising Star

Family Choice Award

Excellence in Academics


Betsy Miller-Methodist Hospital, Cardiac Care

Miriah Jansonius-Methodist Women’s Hospital, Labor & Delivery

Judi Dunn-Clarkson College, Continuing Education

Excellence in Advanced Practice

Excellence in Advocacy

Excellence in Clinical Excellence

Judy Placek-Nebraska Medicine, Plastic Surgery/Burn Surgery

Maria Lander-Nebraska Medicine, Solid Organ Transplant Unit

Sylvia Hanousek-CHI Health, Labor & Delivery, Post Partum and Mother-Baby

Excellence in Informatics

Excellence in Leadership & Mentoring

Excellence in Pediatrics

Ryan Zulkoski-Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Nursing Education/Nursing Informatics

Anne Thallas-Methodist Hospital, Medical Surgical

Megan B. Sorensen-Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Transport

Excellence in Pediatrics in School Health

Excellence in Research & Evidence Based Practice

Excellence in Service to Veterans

Twlya Kleen-Storm Lake Community Schools, Elementary School Nurse

Bernadette Vacha-Nebraska Medicine, Lung Transplant

(No Photo Available) Lisa Crouch-Veterans Health Administration, Ambulatory Care

Spirit of Nursing Award

Spirit of Nursing Award

Spirit of Nursing Award

Lindsey Ayles-Nebraska Medicine, Cardiothoracic Surgery Joan Blum-Clarkson College, Oncology Nursing Michelle Brester-Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Pediatric Surgery

Spirit of Nursing Award

Spirit of Nursing Award

Spirit of Nursing Award

Cathrin Carithers-UNMC College of Nursing, Kearney Division

Tiffany Keller-CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center, Post Partum—Lactation RN

Jaki Kenney-Nebraska Medicine, Werner Special Care Unit

Spirit of Nursing Award

Spirit of Nursing Award

Spirit of Nursing Award

(No Photo Available)Jennifer Lantis-Great Plains Health, Infection Prevent

Kimberly Marsh-Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

Barbara Petersen-Great Plains Health, Quality

Spirit of Nursing Award

Spirit of Nursing Award

Spirit of Nursing Award

Kimberly Peterson-Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, Performance Improvement

Julie Sundermeier-Nebraska Medicine, NICU

Danielle Treska-CHI Health Lakeside Hospital, ICU

Spirit of Nursing Award

Anne Wilber-UNMC College of Nursing, Northern Division (Norfolk)

Student Nursing Award

Student Nursing Award

Student Nursing Award

Taira Anderson-University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing, Northern Division

Dania Cervantes Ayala-College of Saint Mary

Racheal Dawn Daigger-UNMC College of Nursing, Kearney Division

Student Nursing Award

Student Nursing Award

Student Nursing Award

(No Photo Available) Katherine Glaser-Creighton University College of Nursing

Sara Glaser-Bryan College of Health Sciences

Sarah Henry-Purdue University Global School of Nursing

Student Nursing Award

Student Nursing Award

Student Nursing Award

Kathryn Noble-Nebraska Wesleyan University

Tiffany Pardew-Clarkson College

Megan Reiten-Nebraska Methodist College

Student Nursing Award

Student Nursing Award

Student Nursing Award

Jiosajandy Garcia Reyna-University of Nebraska Medical Center College of Nursing

Stephanie Shoning-College of Saint Mary

Breanna Swanson-Bryan College of Health Sciences College of Nursing

Student Nursing Award

Ashley Tagart-College of Saint Mary

Nurse of the Year Nominees

Boys Town Clinics

  • Sara Pfeifer, Pediatric Clinic

Boys Town National Research Hospital

  • Kayla Gentrup, Pediatric Gastroenterology
  • Stephanie Hernandez, Surgical Floor
  • Nerissa Imada, Surgery Center
  • Autumn Rowe, Surgery Center
  • June Root, Pediatrics – Inpatient

Bryan Health

  • Christie Bartelt, Rehabilitation
  • Julie Bratt, Care Management

CHI Health

  • Sarah Barker, Family Birth Center
  • Susan Brill, Intensive Care Unit
  • Rebecca Gardner, Good Samaritan
    Surgery Department
  • Sylvia Hanousek, LDRP: L&D, Post Partum, and Mother Baby
  • Katelyn Henriksen, Orthopedics
  • Jennifer Lemmons, Hospital
  • Debra Saldi, Behavioral Serivces
  • Rebecca Seier, Infection Prevention
  • Lowellyn Steinkraus, Plainview Hospital Specialty Clinic
  • Heidi Gall, Rural Health clinic

CHI Health CUMC – Bergan Mercy

  • Aaron Allen, ICU
  • Kara Aldana, NICU
  • Alicia Buechler, HVI – Cardiac Universal Unit
  • Kara Johnson, Obstetrics
  • Tara Kiichler, NICU
  • Sarah Kumm, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
  • Rhonda Meyer, Heart and Vascular
  • Tracy Meyers, NICU
  • Donna Myers, NICU
  • Emily Oppel, Intensive Care Unit
  • Elena Oquendo, NICU
  • Erin McQuinn, House Operations
  • Guylah, Med/Surg/Ortho/Intermediate/Dialysis
  • Heather Reese, ER

CHI Health Creighton University Medical Center

  • Tiffany Keller, Post Partum-Lactation

CHI Health Good Samaritan

  • Kelsey Daake, Leadership
  • Del Miller, Orthopedics/Oncology

CHI Health Immanuel

  • Hannah Baldwin, PCCU
  • Crisann Hannum, Critical Care
  • Mandy Iverson, Labor and Delivery
  • Mandy Iverson, Obstetrics
  • Mandolyn Klinkhammer, Labor and Delivery
  • Cynthia Lesch-Busse, Nursing Administration
  • Kay Maguire, Medical Surgical
  • Carrie Meyer, Labor and Delivery
  • Jaclyn Seiboldt, Medical Surgical Oncology
  • Elizabeth Steadman, Critical Care
  • Christy Todd, Labor and Delivery
  • Lisa, Labor and Delivery

CHI Health Lakeside Hospital

  • Christine Enterline, Surgery
  • Emily Mass, Med/Surg/Oncology
  • Jordan Novak, Med-Surg/Oncology
  • Katie Swanson, Med-Surg/Ortho
  • Danielle Treska, ICU
  • Jill Yosten, Ambulatory Infusion Center
  • Hanah Zehnder, Float Pool
  • Aysha Classen, ED

CHI Health Mercy Corning

  • Chimene Cobb, Outpatient Specialty Clinic

CHI Health Mercy Council Bluffs

  • Marie Baker, Critical Care Unit
  • Ranita Hiller, Post Critical Care
  • Lori Woodrow, Psychiatric Nurse

CHI Health Midlands

  • Vicki Gall, Medical/Surgical
  • Julie Nichols, Surgical Services

CHI Health Missouri Valley

  • Jodi Potts, Rural Health clinic

CHI Health St. Elizabeth

  • Emily Bachman, Ortho/PEDS
  • Lori Birdzell, Observation
  • Nicole Ragon, Critical Care Unit
  • Tricia Topolski, Emergency
  • Christine Vogt, OBGYN
  • GayAnn Wagner, NICU
  • Kelly Watton, Primary Care

CHI Health St. Francis

  • Darla Cleveland, Medical Oncology
  • Lacey Pavlovsky, Quality Management-Infection Control

CHI Health St. Mary’s

  • Loree Mort, Labor and Delivery

Children’s Hospital & Medical Center

  • Carol Beare, Med-Surg 6 – Nursing Informatics
  • Alicia Bremer, Performance Improvement
  • Michelle Brester, Pediatric Surgery
  • Erin Hartman, Emergency
  • Chase Hinzmann, Critical Care Transport
  • Jill Jensen, Performance Improvement
  • Vanessa Le, NICU, Nursing Informatics
  • Kimberly Marsh, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
  • Katherine McCollough, Dialysis
  • Kimberly Peterson, Performance Improvement
  • Kathy Powers, CARES/PACU
  • Katherine “Kitty” Rasmussen, 5 Med-Surg
  • Megan B. Sorensen, Transport
  • Ryan Zulkoski, Nursing Education/Nursing Informatics

Children’s Physicians—Bellevue

  • Nicole Wallin, Lactation

Children’s Physicians—Plattsmouth

  • Rebecca Robbins, Pediatrics

Children’s Physicians—Gretna

  • Amy Wortmann, Pediatrics

Clarkson College

  • Joan Blum, Oncology NursingJudi Dunn, Continuing Education

Craig HomeCare

  • Amy Lauby, Pediatric Home Health Care

Fremont Health

  • Desa Clark, NursingTerese Moore, Labor and Delivery

Great Plains Health

  • Jennifer Lantis, Infection Prevention
  • Jill Stevenson, Joint Replacement-Orthopaedics
  • Wendy Ward, Quality-Risk Management
  • Barbara Petersen, Quality

Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital

  • Jane Bilau, Traumatic Brain Injury Rehabilitation
  • Mari Ramsey, Acute Rehab

Methodist Hospital

  • Jean Beumler, Palliative Care
  • Ashley Colburn, Rehabilitation
  • Rachael Coufal, Progressive  Care Unit
  • Carrie Kelseth, Cardiac Care
  • Kelly Menousek, Emergency Department
  • Betsy Miller, Cardiac Care
  • Tiffany Pettit, Ortho-Neuro
  • Mandy Stockdale, Rehabilitation
  • Anne Thallas, Medical Surgical
  • Catherine Wolpert, Medical Surgical

Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital

  • Jean Armstrong, Family Resource Center and Shaken Baby Task Force

Methodist Women’s Hospital

  • Miriah Jansonius, Labor & Delivery
  • Sheri Kimmey, NICU/Outreach
  • Shonda Knop, High Risk Obstetrics
  • Amy Rapp, GYN, Postpartum

Nebraska Medicine

  • Megan Armbrust, Women’s and Infant’s Services
  • Lindsey Ayles, Cardiothoracic Surgery
  • Claire Baweja, Emergency Department – BMC
  • Lindsie Buchholz, Enterprise Practice Support
  • Ashley Carne, Medical ICU
  • Barabara Cowden, Werner Intensive Care Unit
  • Lyndie Farr, Critical Care Anesthesia
  • Stephanie Floth, UNL Student Health Center
  • Caitlin Hagen, Cardiology-Progressive Care
  • Terri Heineman, Oncology Treatment Center at Werner Cancer Center
  • Samantha Jordan-Schaulis, Pediatric ICU
  • Jaki Kenney, Werner Special Care Unit
  • Teresa Kerkman, Medical ICU
  • Susan Knutson, NICU
  • Margee Langer, Oncology
  • Maria Lander, Solid Organ Transplant Unit
  • Riley Lyons, Werner Progressive Care Unit
  • Courtney Marshall, Nursing Development Specialist
  • Megan Myers, Medical ICU
  • Denise McGrath, Women and Infant Services
  • Sarah Newman, NICU
  • Sara Neumann, Cardiology
  • LeaAyn Norton, Clarkson Family Medicine Clinic
  • Megan Pierce, Women’s Services
  • Judy Placek, Plastic Surgery/Burn Surgery
  • Lori Schmida, Kidney/pancreas transplant
  • Michael Schrage, Emergency Department
  • Danielle Schulz, Emergency Department
  • Carmen Shannon, SICU
  • Amy Steinauer, Community & Corporate Relations
  • Angie Strain, Heart and Vascular
  • Julie Sundermeier, NICU
  • Gisele Tlusty, Specialty Care Unit
  • Tina Twymon, Clarkson Family Medicine Clinic
  • Bernadette Vacha, Lung Transplant
  • Lisa Wulf, Emergency

Nebraska Methodist College

  • Alice Kindschuh, DNP

Omaha Public Schools

  • Sharon Wade, School Health

Saunders Medical Center

  • Patricia Kucera, Long Term Care

Skinner Magnet Elementary School

  • Shannon Cunningham, Health Office

Storm Lake Community Schools

  • Twlya Kleen, Elementary School Nurse

UnityPoint Health St. Luke’s

  • Christi-Ann Bullock, NICU
  • Brenda Crank, Mother Baby

UNMC College of Nursing

  • Cathrin Carithers, Kearney Division
  • Anne Wilber, Northern Division (Norfolk)

Veterans Administration Health Care

  • Lisa Crouch, Ambulatory Care

VNA of the Midlands

  • Jennifer Dannen, Maternal Child

West Holt Memorial Hospital

  • Jessica Thomassen, Med/Surg, ER, Surgery

West Central District Health Department

  • Brandi Lemon, Outreach Director

This list was printed in the January/February 2019 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

The Evolution of Kaylah Lalonde

November 21, 2018 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Kaylah Lalonde describes roller derby as a football game on roller skates combined with full-contact chess. In other words, there’s aggressive physical contact but players also must think and strategize quickly throughout the game.

Thinking and strategizing come naturally to Dr. Lalonde, who spends her workdays at The Center for Hearing Research at Boys Town National Research Hospital as the director of the research lab. While researching her Ph.D. dissertation in speech and hearing sciences at Indiana University Bloomington she began searching for “a good outlet for social and physical activity,” she says. After a pause and a grin, she adds “and aggression.”    

She attended a skills camp with a friend offered by the local roller derby team. “I was a delicate flower,” jokes Lalonde. “I’d never played sports before, and I didn’t think I was going to compete and fall in love with it.”

Although she did not play sports, she enjoyed exercise—going out dancing with her friends was one of her favorite activities, and she once began working towards running in a half-marathon before she began hurting from a lack of proper training. But roller derby was different. Primarily, she discovered she loves being part of a team, and the challenge and camaraderie that came with competing.

After the skills camp she moved on to the boot camp offered by the team—a common sequence of events for roller derby athletes. Boot camp is where would-be players learn the minimum requirements of the game as governed by the Women’s Flat Track Derby Association.

The Omaha Rollergirls host a similar boot camp where women can learn the skills they need to join the team. “It’s one of the few sports you can start as an adult and play competitively,” says Lalonde, adding that the boot camps are for all skill levels. “Even if you don’t know how to skate—even if you have to grab the wall to stop, we’ll teach you.”

Finding a local roller derby team was a high priority for Lalonde when she moved to Omaha. She’d competed with teams in Indiana and Seattle. These days, she’s known as Swamp Thang on the Omaha Rollergirls. It’s a nickname she earned from her upbringing in southern Louisiana.

“If you’ve ever seen the show Swamp People on the Discovery Channel—that’s where my family lives,” says Lalonde. 

The team is a tight-knit group and active within the community. “Most of my friends are roller derby friends,” says Lalonde. “It’s a great way to meet people.” Her research colleagues sometimes attend games to cheer her on, and her boss loves to tell people about Lalonde’s pastime.

When not playing, she does a great deal of cross-training and weightlifting, which helps her avoid injuries. So far, she’s gotten away with an impressive collection of bruises and one broken finger (which happened in boot camp, not during competition) and estimates that she dedicates around six hours a week to training and competing.

Luckily, her employer encourages a well-rounded work-life balance, so she has time to research during the day while spending her time off competing or preparing to compete. She’s also become more confident.

“There’s also something very empowering to learning to take up space in derby,” Lalonde says. “In our daily lives, I think it’s relatively uncommon for women to literally be told to take up space. And I’ve seen that mentality transfer to my daily life. On crowded sidewalks, for example, I think it’s fairly well known that women are more conditioned than men to move aside to make room for others.”

And she has become more assertive.

“We train ourselves/each other not to apologize for things all the time when we’ve done nothing wrong,” Lalonde says. “Derby has helped me learn not to apologize unless I truly feel that I’ve wronged someone. That’s a skill that transfers well to being a woman in science. I guess they both are: not apologizing, being more assertive.”

But her favorite part of derby is that it is inclusive.

“My favorite thing about roller derby is that you get to use the body type you have,” says the petite Lalonde. “Every body type can do something.” If that means being a scientist by day and Swamp Thang by night, Lalonde is not likely to give up her sport anytime soon.


Visit omaharollergirls.org for more information about local roller derby.

This article was printed in the December 2018/January 2019 edition of B2B. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

Boys Town National Research Hospital

October 27, 2017 by

The Big Give was published in the September/October 2017 edition of Omaha Magazine. To view this sponsored content as it was printed, click here: https://issuu.com/omahapublications/docs/omahamagazine_1017_2_125/72

MISSION STATEMENT

The Center for Childhood Deafness, Language & Learning serves the mission by ensuring positive outcomes for children with hearing and communication-related challenges. The services are dedicated to helping children experience the sounds and sights of the world.

BACKGROUND

The Center for Childhood Deafness, Language & Learning at Boys Town National Research Hospital has served children who are deaf or hard of hearing, and their families, for more than 30 years. The Center’s staff provides medical care, conducts research, offers clinical services, administrates educational programs, and develops outreach programs. These services are shared with individuals worldwide through innovative state-of-the-art distance technology.

BRAG LINES

  • Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) is the industry standard for training and rating sign language interpreters for educational settings.
  • Auditory Consultant Resource Network is an on-site and distance training resource on best educational classroom practices for children who are deaf and hard-of-hearing.
  • The preschool program for children ages 3-5 who are deaf and hard-of-hearing has been modeled across the country.
  • Researchers actively supported the implementation of universal newborn hearing screening for early identification of hearing loss, which is now mandated for newborns in the U.S.

PAY IT FORWARD

Donations for general operations ensures that the level of specialized care, instruction, and technology required at the Center can continue for the children and families served. Become a member of the Friends of the CCDLL to provide support on an annual basis and receive regular updates from the Center. Attend Pure Inspiration and the Memorial Day Run to see the mission at work and get to know others who support the Center. By sponsoring these events, a company gains public recognition and opportunities for employee involvement.

WISH LIST

Donations specifically for the Center support:

  • Printing costs associated with preschool documentation for outreach
    and dissemination
  • Light tables for preschool classrooms
  • Flat screen monitors for therapy observation rooms
  • A new outdoor nature and art classroom
  • Translation fees for a new Spanish version of babyhearing.org
  • In-kind donations of auction items for Pure Inspiration Art Event

UPCOMING EVENTS

Pure Inspiration Art Exhibit & Food-Wine Pairing
Oct. 19, 2017

Memorial Day Run
May 28, 2018

CENTER FOR CHILDHOOD DEAFNESS, LANGUAGE & LEARNING

425 N. 30th St. Omaha, NE 68131

402-452-5000

boystownhospital.org

Overloaded Backpacks

August 25, 2014 by

Overloaded backpacks cause stress on the spine and shoulders, resulting in muscle fatigue and strain, claims the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS). In fact, the excessive weight in backpacks may cause a child to develop poor posture or slouch excessively.

The AAOS recommends that the maximum weight of the child’s backpack should not exceed 15-20% of the child’s weight. A child who weighs 80 pounds should not carry more than 12-16 pounds in her backpack. This figure may vary depending on the child’s strength and fitness level.

Tips to Prevent Back Pains and Injuries:

  • Using a backpack with wide, padded straps and a padded back
  • Using a hip strap when backpacks are overloaded
  • Firmly tightening both straps in order to hold the backpack two inches above the waist
  • Placing heavier items close to your back
  • Using proper lifting techniques: bend at the knees and use the legs to lift the backpack, placing one shoulder strap on at a time
  • Making frequent stops at your locker to unload books
  • Using a backpack with wheels

Watch for the following warning signs that a backpack is too heavy: change in posture when wearing the backpack, pain while wearing the backpack, struggling when putting on or taking off the backpack, red marks on the shoulders, tingling or numbness in arms or legs.   

John P. Sheehan, M.D.,
Pediatric Orthopaedist,
Boys Town National Research Hospital

iStock_000021718216Large

Fighting Childhood Obesity

July 22, 2013 by

Loving, affectionate, intelligent, and a bookworm—that’s how parents described their young teenage daughter. Weighing more than 200 pounds, she often hid behind her books because it helped her feel invisible, a feeling she preferred to the teasing she endured for her acne and weight.

When she first came to the Healthy Eating with Resources, Options, and Everyday Strategies (HEROES) program at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center, staff saw a shy, withdrawn, and sad young lady who stayed mostly in the background. Slowly but surely, however, she began to emerge as a leader in the group. She lost more than 30 pounds and started to incorporate fitness into her daily life. She soon discovered a love for running. After completing six months with the program, this young lady had become an intricate part of the group. She talked about the newness of having boys notice her—something that had never happened before—and she gradually began to regain her self-esteem.

The staff at HEROES says scenarios like this are quite common among obese children, and, many times, parents don’t know how to help or change the situation.

These children are often caught in a vicious cycle, notes Cristina Fernandez, M.D., pediatrician and medical director of the HEROES program. “They are bullied and made fun of, which lowers their self-esteem and makes them depressed,” she says. “This then feeds into their eating and weight problem. One of our teenage girls told us her classmates were throwing food at her like they were feeding an elephant.

Cristina Fernandez, M.D., pediatrician and medical director of HEROES

Cristina Fernandez, M.D., pediatrician and medical director of HEROES. Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

“We can turn their lives around. These children need to know they can change, they can do better, and they can do it every day. We teach them how. The quality of life for these children improves significantly once they have been in our program for a while.”

Obesity is a growing problem in this country. The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that 20 percent of children in this country are overweight or obese. The problem may be even worse in the Omaha metropolitan area. A 2012 survey conducted by Children’s Hospital and Boys Town National Research Hospital found that 30 percent of children aged 5 to 17 years old were overweight or obese.

Obesity is a multi-factorial disease, says Fernandez. While genetics may play a role, the majority of children are overweight due to their environment and an unhealthy lifestyle. Lack of exercise, extra-large portion sizes, excessive snacking, and overconsumption of fast foods, as well as excessive time spent in front of computers and video games, are all taking a toll.

Minorities like Latinos and African-Americans have a higher rate of obesity than the Caucasian population, and this appears to be in large part due to their environment, notes Fernandez.

But obesity is about more than being overweight. It is a chronic disease and serious health problem that can lead to numerous health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, coronary artery disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnea, chronic headaches, venous stasis disease, urinary incontinence, liver disease, and cancer.

If the situation is not turned around, these children will begin having the types of health problems in their 20s and 30s that we normally see in people in their 60s and 70s, explains Fernandez.

Losing weight and maintaining an ideal body weight often requires a multi-faceted approach that includes medical management, nutrition counseling and education, exercise, behavior modification, and behavior therapy.

“Our goal is to help them work through their barriers,” says Martha Nepper, MS, RD, LMNT, certified diabetes educator and certified childhood and adolescent weight manager with Nebraska Methodist Health System. “It’s about getting accurate information about diet and nutrition and the proper support. For some children, that might be individual counseling, while others might benefit more from group classes and support.”

Martha Nepper, MS, RD, LMNT, Nebraska Methodist Health System

Martha Nepper, MS, RD, LMNT, Nebraska Methodist Health System. Photo by Bill Sitzmann.

Nepper works with LifeShapes, a program sponsored by Nebraska Methodist Health System that provides nutrition counseling and support for overweight and obese kids and teens.

Nepper says it’s a process that requires both the child and the parents to achieve the greatest success. “Parent involvement is extremely critical,” she says. “The parents are the gatekeepers—they control what comes into the house. The adoption of healthy habits, including diet and exercise, needs to start with them.”

Nepper adds that, oftentimes, just making small dietary changes can help decrease caloric intake enough to halt weight gain and allow children to grow into their weight. This includes steps like trading sugary beverages (like pop and Gatorade) with water, decreasing portion sizes, increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, and having more family meals.

Some common things for parents to avoid include:

  • Pressuring children to clean their plates
  • Allowing children to have televisions in their bedrooms
  • Bringing too many energy-dense foods into the house, like cookies, chips, and toaster pastries
  • Not being a good role model by not exercising regularly or participating in activities that involve exercise with their children
  • Eating out too often and too much fast food

Using the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) MyPlate is a great way to determine what should be on your child’s plate, says Nepper. With MyPlate, half of the plate should be fruits and vegetables with the remaining half split between proteins, whole grains, and dairy.

Even after completing an intervention program, these children do best when they come back for occasional follow-up visits. “It’s a lifelong battle,” says Fernandez. “A smoker or an alcoholic can stop using tobacco or alcohol; we can’t stop eating.”