Mar 22, 2024 New Pediatric Weight Management Program Introduced By The Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center

Sonia Sethi, MD FAAP, DABOM, the Director of MMC’s new Pediatric Weight Management Program, is shown in the Teen Room on the hospital’s Pediatric Unit, where she also works as a hospitalist.

Long Branch, NJ–March 22, 2024–In New Jersey, data reveals that 14.2 percent of adolescents are overweight, and 10.3 percent are obese A new Pediatric Weight Management Program introduced by The Unterberg Children’s Hospital at Monmouth Medical Center is designed to address the growing trend of childhood obesity.

Sonia Sethi, MD FAAP, DABOM, the Director of the Pediatric Weight Management Program and an RWJBarnabas Health Medical Group provider, notes that pediatric obesity is increasing at alarming rates worldwide, with rates doubling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the scale and gravity of the situation, there's a substantial need for a comprehensive, community-focused program aimed at reducing pediatric obesity rates, she said.

“Pediatric obesity is a growing public health concern with far-reaching consequences,” said Dr. Sethi, who trained in pediatrics at Monmouth Medical Center and is the first pediatric physician in the area to be board-certified by the American Board of Obesity Medicine. “Our Pediatric Weight Management Program is the first and only initiative of its kind in the region. We are proud to pioneer this initiative, and our goal is to make meaningful improvements to children’s lives.”

The goal of the program, which began seeing patients in January, is to foster long-term healthy habits in children and prevent obesity-related health issues. It is open to children 12 to 18 with a BMI at or above the 95th percentile and offers a hybrid model of in-person and virtual visits and a unique blend of clinical and community-based approaches.

“We focus on personalized care for a diverse population, offering effective tools and tactics for sustainable weight loss without fixating on diets or scales,” she says. “We empower children to make healthier choices without endorsing restrictive diets. Instead, we encourage small but powerful lifestyle changes.”

The program’s team is comprised of a board-certified obesity medicine pediatrician, registered dietitians, and community wellness champions. Comprehensive evaluations help identify conditions linked to weight gain and obesity-related complications such as sleep apnea, diabetes, high cholesterol, and depression.

“Our dietitians guide families through necessary changes, motivating them with understanding and support and utilizing age-appropriate tools such as smartphone apps to address emotional eating,” Dr. Sethi says. We coordinate care with pediatric specialists in cardiology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, sleep disorders, and orthopedics, physical therapists, and psychologists in patients with specific comorbidities.”

Dr. Sethi notes that families are also encouraged to attend wellness activities at Monmouth Medical Center’s LiveWell Center, which is located below the Pediatric Weight Management Program site in the Anne Vogel Family Care & Wellness Center in Eatontown. The site also has the advantage of offering on-site, seamless access to Unterberg Children’s Hospital pediatric subspecialists who have adjoining offices at the center.

“We recommend starting with an in-person visit, followed by biweekly virtual sessions and regular participation in our Community Health Program,” she says. “We tailor our approach to each family's unique needs.”

For more information about the Pediatric Weight Management Program, visit or call 732-222-4474 to make an appointment. For information on free monthly wellness programs and services, visit or call The LiveWell Center at 862-781-3597.

About RWJBarnabas Health Children’s Health Network

As New Jersey’s largest academic health system, RWJBarnabas Health is the state’s most comprehensive children’s health network offering an unmatched range of pediatric services, from primary care to specialized treatments and therapies.

Our vast network of child-friendly facilities and pediatric specialists includes four acute care children’s hospitals across the state. Our team takes a multidisciplinary approach to each child’s unique health needs with a total of 692 pediatric inpatient beds across the system and 18 pediatric primary care locations going beyond clinical interventions addressing specific care needs at the appropriate developmental, physical, emotional, and psychological levels of each child.

In partnership with Rutgers Health, RWJBarnabas Health Children’s Health network provides advanced research, teaching, social impact initiatives, and outstanding care to improve the health and well-being of every child in every community. Learn more at