A new multi-service clinic for children and teens with body weight health concerns is now available for families in Scarborough.
The Healthy Outcomes Paediatric Program for Scarborough (HOPPS) specialty clinic is offered jointly by Rouge Valley Health System (RVHS) and The Scarborough Hospital (TSH), with support from several community partners. HOPPS is funded by Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care at no cost to patients.
Dr. Margaret Gan-Gaisano, a paediatric endocrinologist at RVHS says, “Obesity in children has shown to result in much earlier onset of diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and fatty liver, leading to heart disease, stroke, kidney and liver failure, and other conditions. The HOPPS clinic aims to help young patients make healthy lifestyle changes to avoid these preventable consequences.”
Dr. Peter Azzopardi, medical director and corporate chief of paediatrics at TSH, adds, “It is estimated that there are 36,000 overweight and obese children living in Scarborough. A key concern for these children and their families has been the lack of access to multidisciplinary clinics that can help to treat the various issues that contribute to unhealthy body weight — including lifestyle. By working together on the HOPPS program, RVHS and TSH are helping to address this unmet need.”
How does HOPPS work?
HOPPS is a community-based program that supports young patients and their families in making important lifestyle changes that will lead to improved health, stronger bodies, and a better quality of life.
HOPPS has been developed for children between the ages of two and 17 who have an elevated body mass index (BMI) and may have complications related to obesity. Specifically, paediatric patients with a BMI greater than the 97th percentile; or those who have a BMI greater than the 85th percentile with one or more of the following conditions: pre-diabetes, hypertension, polycystic ovarian syndrome, hyperlipidemia, fatty liver, or sleep apnea.
The HOPPS team consists of a paediatric endocrinologist, paediatricians, a registered dietitian, an exercise therapist, a social worker, and a registered nurse. Patients and their families will be seen by a paediatrician at either RVHS or TSH, depending on which is closer for the patient and what co-morbidities (medical conditions) they may have. They will also be seen by the HOPPS team at a clinic site in the community. Community partners include the Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities; Toronto District School Board; the University of Toronto-Scarborough Campus; and the City of Toronto.
“These community spaces are often closer to home for patients, which makes our services more accessible for them,” says Jenny Greensmith, an exercise therapist with the program. “The community spaces also allow our clinic team to work with patients and their families outside of a hospital setting, enabling us to connect our patients with different community resources that they may need.”
Patients between ages seven and 17 can participate in the Building Better Bodies program, an intensive, six-week group program focusing on healthy lifestyle modification. Classes are held at one of the community sites, and include fun exercises and physical activity, nutrition counselling, and education on family lifestyle changes. The program helps patients to improve their confidence and self-image, and provides them with information on resources and supports available in the community. After completing the program, patients will receive up to two years of follow-up care, including both in-clinic and over-the-phone consultations, to support them in sustaining their lifestyle changes.
Younger patients between ages two and six receive family-centred counselling with the HOPPS team, also at a community site. The counselling includes discussions for the whole family around lifestyle changes, healthy eating, physical activity, and supports that are available in the community. The frequency and number of weeks of counselling are based on the needs of the family.
Getting started with HOPPS
To learn more about HOPPS, please contact the clinic team at 647-461-7030 or HOPPS@rougevalley.ca. To be seen at the HOPPS clinic, patients will need a referral from their family physician. Referral forms are available at www.rougevalley.ca/HOPPS and www.tsh.to/hopps, and can be faxed to the central booking office at 416-281-7313.