My son, Gaige, came home from school one day very sad because some kids kept telling him he had a big belly. My heart broke for my little 4 year old. At this young age, my son weighed 66.3 pounds and was 45 inches tall with a body mass index of 22.7. A normal BMI for kids my son’s age is 14.

As a mom, I truly believe we don’t see flaws in our children that others may see. I knew Gaige was bigger than most kids his age. I didn’t really see how much bigger he was. With a desire to fix the problem, I made an appointment with our pediatrician.

I discussed the teasing and my family history of hypothyroidism with our pediatrician. After testing, we found out Gaige had a normal acting thyroid, but his cholesterol level was high. Both my husband and I work in health care and understand the effects that high cholesterol could have on an adult. What would it do to our son?

We were referred to the NEW (Nutrition, Exercise and Weight Management) Kids™ Program at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin. We had our first appointment in December 2008.

We saw many people during our visits to the NEW Kids Program including a nurse practitioner, dietitian and psychologist. A physical therapist found that Gaige had some weakness in his legs and was slightly behind developmentally because of that weakness. I now understood why Gaige didn’t want to participate in sporting activities. When he complained that his legs hurt, he wasn’t just wanting to be carried after all!

Gaige’s physical therapist gave us some home exercises to do. We also were encouraged to try different activities with Gaige until we found one he liked. We found that he loves to swim and play floor hockey.

We also got advice about meals and snacks. The goal of changing Gaige’s diet was to maintain his weight as he grew. We wanted to work at getting his cholesterol at a more healthy number, too.

Gaige could drink a gallon of milk in two days. I did think it was a lot, but never thought this was a problem because he was getting calcium. We needed to cut back. We were given great alternatives to some of Gaige’s favorite foods. The staff also suggested some low-calorie drinks. We didn’t want to limit too much. Instead of eating four cookies for a snack, we chose one cookie and a fruit or veggie. These changes would help Gaige and our whole family.

Every person I met in the program never made me feel judged. They always were kind and set reasonable expectations. We had ups and downs … in Gaige’s BMI and in our emotions. The staff gave me the tools and support I needed to keep from making the same mistakes again. In October 2009 we learned that Gaige’s BMI decreased to 21.9 and his cholesterol was in a healthy range!

We took Gaige into the clinic for a BMI check in April. We again got to see some improvements in his BMI – 20.6! I am proud of my 6-year-old son. He has learned a lot about healthy choices. We will continue to monitor Gaige’s cholesterol and BMI, but we now have the extra knowledge to help keep Gaige healthy.

~ Jacqui, mom from Menomonee Falls, Wis. and believer in Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s NEW Kids Program, guest blogger


How Children’s Hospital helped my son lose weight and feel great — 9 Comments

  1. Way to go Gaige! I also commend your whole family Jacqui! I agree that it is often hard to see any flaws in our own children, especially when it comes to health and eating. It breaks my heart that sweet Gaige was getting teased as he truly has a heart of gold. Now, you are making the changes to give that sweet HEART a chance. Healthy eating habits take commitment, lifestyle changes and a whole family. I’m so impressed with your intiative and the changes and the progress you are all making. We loved Children’s Hospital when we were in WI and love that they offer so many programs to enhance our children’s lives and provide tools for us learning parents. Way to go! Thanks for sharing your story! You have motivated me to re-evaluate our own eating habits!;)

  2. Awesome job, Gaige and Family! You worked hard and you got results – that is what we all strive for when we want to change something. You are an inspiration to others:)

  3. Jacqui we have known each other for a long time and I’ve watched your ups and downs with Gaige. Watching your journey gives all of us hope who have children who struggle with weight for whatever the reason. Everyone is alright with kids with disabilities, but many just shun the kids with weight issues.
    GOOD JOB to you and to Gaige!!

  4. What an AMAZING parents with an amazing son! Thank you for aharing your story–I’m SO blessed to know and love you. I am SO proud of all of you! God Bless you–Christine

  5. Wow! I am SO impressed Gaige! What an awesome job! You must be SO proud of yourself. By your mom writing this article about all your hard work, I learned a whole lot about how I can make better food choice too! Thanks Gaige! Keep it up buddy!

  6. That is awesome! I didn’t know you guys had all this going on. How wonderful to work on this issue as a family and then to share your experience, I bet a lot of people were supported through your efforts. Keep up the good work!

  7. Great job Gaige, I could take some pointers from you!!! You have a great mom, I think the world of her and her courage for all she does!!!!!