The Garden City child obesity specialist provides the inside scoop on what sets her program apart.
Dr. Joanna Dolgoff’s “Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right” program is setting the gold standard for combating child obesity in our country.
As The Biggest Loser’s childhood obesity specialist
, Dolgoff made a recent visit to the child participants’ homes where she “Cut The Junk” - literally emptying out the contents of their pantries and refrigerators.
In one clip 10-year-old Noah proclaims, “I never really thought about what I ate.”
A seemingly innocuous statement but in reality this is the mode most of American families are in.
Fresh off an appearance on The Dr. Oz Show
this past Friday, Dolgoff gave Patch a tour of her main office on Franklin Avenue. Dolgoff also has several satellite offices throughout Long Island, Queens and Manhattan.
Garden City is the epicenter for Dolgoff’s program. On a typical afternoon the office is abuzz with activity. Everything about the office is upbeat including the staff, decor and program guides - all designed for children to feel empowered.
Plans are also in the works for patients to take advantage of a family fitness center.
Ten-year-old Sam Kelstein was intrigued by the program when he heard about it from a teacher. His mother, Robin, said her goal was for Sam to eat healthier.
“Our family has battled weight issues,” Kelstein said. “Yet, for Sam I wanted him to eat better. It was his decision to follow the program. I don’t want to be the food police and I wanted to stop worrying about what choices he was making when I wasn’t there.”
Sam, who will be attending sleep away camp this summer, feels he is better equipped to make healthy food choices. He has started to read food labels and has discovered many new foods. According to Sam, the best thing about the program is that it’s easy and he still gets to eat the foods he likes.
A lacrosse, basketball and baseball player, Sam has lost five pounds since starting the program and says he is now running faster.
When asked about the main difference in Sam’s eating habits, his mother shared they were no longer “carb-loading.” A typical menu for the day before the program consisted of a bagel for breakfast, pizza for lunch and chicken nuggets for dinner.
The program is family-focused and easy to use. Foods are categorized by color, with green foods a go, yellow foods are slow down and red light foods are eaten with caution. There are no off-limit foods, red light food can be eaten in moderation. The plan treats both normal, overweight and underweight patients.
Every patient receives a full medical assessment before they start the program. A calorimetry breath test determines the patient’s resting metabolic rate and the maximum number of daily calories they can consume and still lose weight. Then a customized plan is developed and updated as the child moves along in the program.
Children are provided many different tools along the way, such as during their weekly follow-up visits, to ensure they are successful.
When developing the program, Dolgoff set out to ensure that “kids could still be kids.”
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