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Obesity Program (IDEAL Clinic)

Contact number | 202-476-7200
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The Obesity Program at Children’s National Health System brings together a comprehensive team of physicians, researchers and health professionals committed to preventing and treating childhood obesity.

One of only a few dedicated pediatric teams in the nation, we offer a continuum of care and support for families. We aim to empower children and teens to improve their quality of life and to achieve health gains that follow them into adulthood.

Prevention and Treatment

The Obesity Program emphasizes personalized clinical care and education to prevent and reduce the prevalence of obesity. Improving health is important because obese children are at greater risk for serious health problems, including type 2 diabetes, depression, heart disease and disabilities, and they are more likely to become obese adults.  

Obesity is a complex condition influenced by environmental, social, economic, behavioral and genetic factors. Our innovative multidisciplinary programs and interventions address these factors from the perspective of children and their families.

Features of the Obesity Program include:

  • Personalized care. At the core of every care plan, we engage families in healthy lifestyle changes based upon a patient’s individual needs and the family’s readiness to change. We work with you and your child to determine the best treatment and to develop a realistic lifestyle plan.
  • Family-centered programs. We educate families about behaviors and habits that have a positive impact on health. We find out what families need to be successful and support them in their efforts to change.  
  • Care for children to young adults. Our team is experienced in caring for the physical as well as psychological differences between children and teenagers. We prepare teens to continue their healthy lifestyles into adulthood, as they enter the workforce and go off to college.
  • Bariatric surgery. The Weight-Loss Surgery program helps teenagers who are morbidly obese and unable to lose weight another way. We consult with you to determine the appropriate procedure and develop a preparatory and post-procedure plan for successful outcomes.
  • A public health approach. Efforts to prevent and reduce childhood obesity, like KiPOW!, extend beyond the walls of Children’s National. In addition to clinical care, we are active in the community as providers and advocates, disseminating best practices and voicing support for effective policy.   

Improving Diet, Energy and Activity for Life Clinic

The foundation of our care is education for patients and families. The Improving Diet, Energy and Activity for Life (IDEAL) Clinic is a weight-loss and health education program for children and teens, ages 18-months to 18 years old.

The clinic team, including physicians (preventive cardiology, endocrinology, sports medicine), pediatric nurse practitioners, clinical dietitians, health educators and sleep medicine specialists, helps children and teens live a healthier lifestyle, achieve a healthy weight and reduce the risk of complications related to obesity. The team meets with patients every four to eight weeks and can extend to a duration of greater than 1 year.    

Patients may also participate in the following services

  • Dietary counseling
  • Health education classes
  • Physical activity classes
  • Weight management counseling

Referral guidelines for the IDEAL Clinic:

  • Body Mass Index (BMI) at or above the 95th percentile
  • Elevated fasting cholesterol, triglyceride (TG), insulin, glucose, high blood pressure (hypertension), or liver function tests (LFT)
  • Slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE) or Blount’s disease

If your child has hypothyroidism, short stature, or other endocrine disorder, we can help with a referral to the appropriate specialist in Endocrinology.

Weight-Loss Bariatric Surgery Program

After other weight-loss options are exhausted, bariatric surgery may be an appropriate treatment for morbidly obese teens to reach a healthier weight. Learn more about our Bariatric Surgery Program.


We consider the full continuum, from obesity prevention to intervention as it relates to research, advocacy and education. The partnership of the Obesity Program specialists with Children’s Research Institute is a combination without parallel across the country. The Center for Genetic Medicine Research and the Center for Translational Research meet the challenges of childhood obesity with a broad spectrum of molecular, genetic, behavioral, environmental, clinical epidemiologic and translational studies.

Renesha's Story



When Renesha came to Children's at 19-years-old, she weighed 286 pounds. Now, after her treatment through the Obesity Program, she's a self-proclaimed "health freak," encouraging her family and friends to work out and eat healthy with her.

Renesha's Story

Obesity Program IDEAL Clinic Team