Paediatric Healthy Living Program

paediatric healthy living program

Childhood Obesity

Over the past 25 years childhood obesity rates have increased dramatically in Canada. Rates of obesity in Northwestern Ontario are higher than the provincial average. Many factors contribute to extra weight in childhood including but not limited to the quality of food and drinks consumed, physical activity levels, screen use, sleep, and family and community environments. Extra weight can impact children’s health and well being. Children with excess weight are at an increased risk for a number of immediate and long-term health conditions including: cardiac disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems and liver disease. Obesity in childhood can also result in psychological distress such as increased stress, increased risk of mood and anxiety difficulties, and increased difficulties with peers such as experiencing bullying.

Program Overview

Our Hospital’s Paediatric Healthy Living Program offers a family centered approach to weight management for children, adolescents and their families. The program’s goal is to help children and their families improve their eating habits, physical activity levels, emotional well being and overall health. Our approach is to focus on lifestyle and behavior modification strategies to sustain healthy habits and improve health outcomes. The Paediatric Healthy Living Program provides multi-disciplinary team support in which families work collaboratively with clinicians to develop realistic goals for weight management. The program is 2 years in duration and offered in an out-patient setting. Care is provided through individual appointments and group based education.

Patients ages 4-12

Caregivers of children between 4-12 years of age are required to attend a group-based parent program to help them learn and practice ways to help their family live healthier by making positive lifestyle changes. Following completion of the group-based program families will continue to meet individually with the Paediatric Healthy Living team as needed based on patient/family needs.

Patients ages 13-17

Adolescents and a parent/caregiver will participate in a group based education and exercise class. Participants will learn about a variety of healthy living topics such as sleep, nutrition, active living, screen use, body image and self esteem. Youth will also learn about and participate in cardiovascular, strength and flexibility exercises in a clinical gym setting. Upon completion of the 10 week group families will continue to meet with the Paediatric Healthy Living team as needed and follow up will be determined based on patient/family needs.  

Program Eligibility

Children must be between the ages of 4-17 years of age
Have a BMI >99th percentile
Have a BMI >97th percentile plus an obesity related co-morbidity such as: Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Obesity-related Type II Diabetes, Dyslipidemia, Hypertension, Psychological impairment, obesity-related orthopaedic problems, Pseudotumor Cerebri

Our Team

Our inter-professional team includes a Registered Dietitian, Kinesiologist, Social Worker, Psychologist, Nurse Practitioner and Paediatrician.

Registered Dietitian

The Registered Dietitian (RD) conducts nutrition assessments to identify nutrition problems and their causes. The RD provides individual and group nutrition education and counseling on various topics to promote healthy behaviour change. Topics may include healthy food/drink choices, label reading, portion control, meal planning, etc. Nutrition counseling can improve eating behaviours associated with good health, such as increased intake of fruits, vegetables and whole grains and reduced intake of processed foods. The RD also monitors individuals throughout the program to determine change in behavior and nutritional status.


The Registered Kinesiologist will assess the patient and families’ current lifestyle as it relates to daily movement. Areas assessed are sedentary behavior and screen time, sleep habits, accumulated steps throughout the day and planned moderate-vigorous physical activity at school, community and home. Assistance is provided to patients and families with behaviour modification strategies to increase and sustain daily physical activity, limit screen time and improve sleep habits.

Social Worker

The Social Worker provides psychosocial assessment and counseling support to children, youth and families related to their weight management goals. Assessment and intervention focus on family functioning, emotional health, coping with stress, body image, linking families to appropriate community supports and promotion of healthy behaviours. As Team Lead for the Program the Social Worker is the primary patient contact and is responsible for program coordination.


The Psychologist provides psychological assessment and treatment for children, youth, and families. Assessments focus on identifying drivers of weight gain and barriers to weight management from a psychosocial perspective. Treatment focuses on addressing psychosocial challenges that impact quality of life and interfere with weight management. The Psychologist also conducts research evaluation of existing programs to ensure that our programs are best meeting the needs of our patients and families from Thunder Bay and the surrounding region.

Nurse Practitioner

The Nurse Practitioner conducts ongoing medical assessments of children and adolescents throughout the duration of the program. Children are screened for weight related co-morbidities through physical assessments and diagnostic tests. . Visits with the Nurse Practitioner may include: blood work, height, weight and blood pressure monitoring. The Nurse Practitioner works collaboratively with other team and family members to develop realistic goals and treatments plans for weight management.

Referral Process

Referrals are accepted from Primary Care Providers who have assessed children to meet the above outlined eligibility criteria. We also accept referrals from parents; if you are concerned about your child’s weight and would like to see if they are eligible for our program, please call us directly at 807-684-6058.

How do I get there?

The Paediatric Healthy Living Program is located in the Medical Building (west of the main hospital building towards Golf Links Road) in Suite 104 (on the first floor).


Nutrition and Healthy Eating – Health Canada

Healthy Eating – Thunder Bay District Health Unit

Children’s Nutrition –

Healthy Diet – World Health Organization

24 hour movement guidelines

Program Poster
Paediatric Healthy Poster