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Doctor Gives Up Thriving Pediatric Practice to Help Children With Weight Struggles

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Doctor, Children, Childhood Obesity A few years ago, Pediatrician Dr. Joanna Dolgoff decided she'd had enough.

She was watching one overweight child after another enter her office. She knew the stats: One in three children are overweight and obese. And 80 percent of those kids will struggle with weight problems as adults. And she knew this problem was growing. In the past 20 years, the number of overweight kids has increased by 50 percent.

Pediatricians spend an average of 7 minutes with their patients during a visit. With immunizations, general health questions, and a parent's basic concerns, how is their possibly time to tackle the issue of weight? Adults have so many options—South Beach, Atkins, Jenny Craig, etc.—but there hasn't been a plan designed purely for kids.

So, Dr. Dolgoff made a decision. She left her practice and started out on her own. Friends and collegues thought she was crazy. But she isn't. She just wants to combat this national problem—one child at a time.

She created her own clinic in New York—Dr. Dolgoff's Weigh. The program is based on a 'traffic light system' - there are red light, yellow light, and green light foods. Dr. Dolgoff, says, "I don't believe in forbidding foods. I am instead teaching clean, healthy eating." The program is portion controlled but geared towards the specific needs a growing child faces.

With a 96 percent success rate, Dr. Dolgoff couldn't be happier, "This is the greatest thing I have ever done. I am fulfilling a need, doing what I love, and helping people. It doesn't get any better than that."

Take 10 year old J.D. for example. She lost 27 pounds in 6 months.

beforegifl aftergirl

Dr. Dolgoff's Weigh offers kids and parents two different options—an 'In Office' program and one online. When she visits with kids in person, she is able to use their breath to learn their metabolic rate and can create a specific plan for that child in terms of diet and exercise. They typically visit her office once a week. The online program uses norms based on height, weight and gender to help kids and their parents set goals. All exercise is based on things her patients like to do.

Dr. Dolgoff often finds that the 'mom' in her overrides the 'doctor' in her. Having two small children at home, she knows it would be unfair, if not impossible to expect a child to attend a birthday party and not eat cake. So, she factors these things into her programs. She explains, "This is about developing a healthy relationship with food. It is not about what you look look. The goal is to be healthy, not skinny."

Dr. Dolgoff has plans to open clinics nationwide. Educated at Princeton and NYU School of Medicine, she is excited to be reaching families outside the immediate NYC area.

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An active part of the Mom It Forward team, Jyl primarily writes about parenting, social good, and all things travel related. In a past life, Jyl was an award-winning copywriter and designer of corporate training programs for Fortune 100 companies. Offline, Jyl is married to @TroyPattee; a mom to two teen boys and a beagle named #Hashtag; loves large amounts of cheese, dancing, and traveling; and lives in the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Topping her bucket list is the goal to visit 50 countries by the time she's 50.


5 responses to “Doctor Gives Up Thriving Pediatric Practice to Help Children With Weight Struggles”

  1. Caroline says:

    Wow! This doctor sounds wonderful. We all have a “gift” and I truly believe it is so important to use and share what we have been given! I am wondering how she feels about probiotics. I have read how well they help with wt management among other things, and we just love love love our Vidazorb! So…just wondering what her thoughts are as far as helping those children with this. Thanks, Caroline *smilinggreenmom (Find me on twitter!)

  2. Caroline,

    Thanks for your kind words! I think probiotics are great for preventing diarrhea when on antibiotics and for contributing to general bowel health. I don’t think they are very helpful in terms of weight management, however! Hope that helps! Feel free to contact me with any other questions!

    Joanna Dolgoff, M.D.

  3. Joanna is a genuninely nice person. I met her IRl at an event for Subway.

    She truly cares about promoting healthy eating in kids. She tweets positive and helpful healthy eating tips each day on twitter. I find the tips to be thought-provoking. I know that I would never be able to follow all the tips as our lifestyle is very on-the-go with 3 children playing multiple sports and activities, but I strive to follow some of her guidelines. I think about what I buy in the grocery store, for instance, instead of picking up what is quick and easy. I’m — like my kids — a work in progress!

  4. Dear Joanna,
    As a friend of your Aunt Robin and Uncle Robert, Mom, Eating Disorder Specialist/Psychotherapist/Life Coach/ future author, I commend your positive approach and attitude about tackling with compassion our weighty issues with children. Your approach on health and wellness, is mine as well, not based on some cultural crazy standard of thinness. Love to meet up with you and join forces. I have run many groups for adults, compulsive overeaters and have worked with bulimics and anorexics for over 25 years. I have a new office in Chelsea in Manhattan.
    You are certainly on the right track. Good luck with expanding your practice and with your book as well.
    Arden Greenspan-Goldberg

  5. Fran Levinson says:

    Hi Joanna… Caren has kept me up to date on your thriving weight control practice for children. How fantastic to be able to teach and help our children and grandchildren a healthy way of eating that will be a way of life for their life. I tam so proud of you and wish you all the best on your thriving practice. Fran Levinson

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