Program Structure

The goals of the Pediatric Weight Control Program (PWCP) are to:

  1. Help children improve their eating and exercise habits
  2. Create a balanced diet based on recommended servings from USDA’s MyPlate.
  3. Help each PWCP child maintain or gradually lose weight (no more than one pound per week while the child is still growing). This will reduce the child’s level of overweight.

The program is based on Dr. Len Epstein’s Traffic Light Program, which has demonstrated the best long-term results in the literature for weight loss and 10-year weight maintenance in children and adolescents.

The PWCP does not recommend rapid, short-term weight loss or dieting.

Program Components

How to Eat Healthier
The first phase of the program helps create a balanced diet that limits unhealthy foods. Children record everything they eat and drink in a journal during the program. Recording what they eat and drink allows children to examine their eating habits. Children can then determine what they can change to create a healthier, balanced diet. Parents are strongly encouraged to record their own eating habits as well.

Children and parents will be asked to set weekly goals to limit the number of unhealthy foods they eat. They will also have short assignments to complete before each session. Regular attendance at the weekly sessions by both parents and children is critical for success in this program.

Physical Activity

The second phase of the program focuses on exercise habits and how families can incorporate more physical activity into their daily lives.

Individual Sessions

Every 6-7 weeks, each family meets individually with behavior coaches for a 20 minute session to discuss progress as well as support for any specific obstacles or concerns.


  • Finally, the maintenance phase of the program helps families practice and reinforce the healthy skills they have learned. It also helps in dealing with difficult situations (e.g., family gatherings, holidays, parties). The last 10 sessions of the program alternate between maintenance skills and physical activity sessions.
  • Families will be asked to attend individual follow-up sessions every four weeks after completing the program.

Group Session Format Each group session is 90 minutes.

Typically, the groups follow this format:

  • During the first 30 minutes, each family is privately weighed and measured. They receive feedback about their progress in changing or maintaining habits over the past week.
  • In the second 30 minutes, children and parents divide into separate groups. They discuss specific child and parent experiences and problem-solving techniques.
  • In the last 30 minutes, parents and children meet together in a large group. They identify obstacles and develop solutions to reach their weekly goals.
  • Evaluating Progress

Program Overview

Pediatric Weight Program Overview - Stanford Children's

Our staff and families work together to evaluate progress by looking at:

  • Weekly weight measurements
  • Monthly height measurements
  • Recorded changes in eating and exercise habits

The goal for each child is to maintain the same weight or to gradually lose weight while continuing to grow in height.