Toys Enhance Kids' Nutrition Therapy at MCMC

Christmas came early for children who receive medical nutrition therapy at Mid-Columbia Medical Center (MCMC). Colorful toys to encourage active play, such as hacky sacks, hopping balls, and jump ropes, have been distributed to the young patients – much to their delight.

The purchase of the toys was made possible by a grant that Mid-Columbia Health Foundation received from the Juan Young Trust to help combat childhood obesity.

“Every child who recently came in for nutrition therapy has been given something fun to take home,” said Melody Acosta, MPH, RD, CSP, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition at MCMC. “And bigger toys have been reserved for kids who follow through with their goals. The patients have been loving their surprise toys!”

When a child is identified by their doctor as overweight, the child may be referred to MCMC for outpatient medical nutrition therapy. Through the program, registered dietitians provide the necessary support and education to help the child improve their health and eating habits.

The program, located at MCMC Water’s Edge, begins with an hour-long assessment of a child's current habits and food intake. The entire family is invited to attend in order to understand ways to help the patient at home. The families - or the patients themselves, if they are older than 8 years - are asked to make a commitment to a lifestyle change.

“It might be something as small as ‘stop drinking soda’ or ‘eat breakfast at home every day’ or ‘eat vegetables at lunchtime,’" said Acosta. “These small changes make a big difference over time.”

Shorter follow-up appointments of 15 to 30 minutes each occur between 2 weeks and 3 months, and small goals are set at each visit with a goal of decreasing the child's body mass index percentile.

Medical nutrition therapy is an evidence-based medical approach to treating certain chronic conditions through the use of an individually-tailored nutrition plan. This nutrition plan is ordered and approved by a primary care physician and implemented by a registered dietitian.

For more information, call 541-296-7319.