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Valley Health's Metabolic & Bariatric Adolescent Medical Weight Loss Program: A Q&A with Rick Northcraft, FNP-C

Valley Health's Metabolic & Bariatric Adolescent Medical Weight Loss Program: A Q&A with Rick Northcraft, FNP-C

What is the Metabolic & Bariatric Adolescent Medical Weight Loss Program?

Our program is a comprehensive approach for anyone aged 14-18 who may struggle with being overweight or obese. The program includes a thorough look at your health history, a complete physical exam, and labs if needed.

How did the program start?

The Valley Health Metabolic & Bariatric Program started offering an Adolescent Medical Weight Loss Program in November 2023. Although the need for such a program has existed for a long time, the true planning started after the COVID-19 pandemic. Many providers were seeing adolescent students who had gained weight during the pandemic. Many of our adult patients would often ask if we could help their child with weight loss. Our team recognized the need and started to form a structured program that would help young people achieve a healthier weight and learn basic nutritional skills.

Why is it important to address childhood obesity?

Childhood obesity is a serious health concern for children because it can lead to health problems like type 2 diabetes, obstructive sleep apnea, fatty liver, and other metabolic diseases. Children with obesity often have depression and low self-esteem. Overweight and obese children often remain obese into adulthood. Our goal with the adolescent program is to guide each patient toward a sustainable, healthy lifestyle to minimize these health problems.

Can you outline the path a patient takes while in the program?

Participants in the program meet monthly. At each visit, a lesson is reviewed from the Next Steps book. There are six lessons with topics that include label reading, sugary drinks, healthier snacks, and self-esteem. Patients are encouraged to follow up monthly. Medication therapy may be an option if appropriate. Dietitian support is available and encouraged. We have the capability to do metabolic testing which helps determine specific calorie needs.

What should parents know about the program?

We strongly encourage parental involvement for maximum benefit of the program. The key for parents when discussing their child’s weight is to maintain a nonjudgmental attitude and promote positivity. A child’s identity is not in the number on the scale. We value every patient in our program and understand each is unique. Together, our team with support from parents, develop tailored strategies and goals toward creating a healthier lifestyle.

Although there are only six specific lessons, the visits do not end there. Obesity is a chronic disease that requires chronic management; therefore, patients may need to follow up for an extended period. In fact, treatment guidelines recommend 26 or more hours of patient and family counseling over a 3-12 month period.

What has been the most rewarding experience so far?

It has been rewarding to see many of our patients achieve a healthier weight and work toward developing a healthier lifestyle. These changes will certainly help them into adulthood.

To learn more about the Adolescent Medical Weight Loss program, visit or call 540-536-0010.