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Children's National convenes first childhood obesity symposium

WASHINGTON, DCOn Tuesday, November 25, 2008, the Obesity Institute at Children's National Medical Center gathered experts from many disciplines to share ideas, failures and successes, and the future promise of prevention and intervention strategies to fight childhood obesity, both in the District of Columbia and nationwide.

Through the Obesity Institute, Children's National seeks to reduce childhood obesity using a multidisciplinary approach that draws upon our experts from throughout Children's National, as well as research, clinical, policy, and advocacy partners region.

"There is no single cause for the increase in childhood obesity, but certainly high fat diets and lack of exercise are contributing factors," said Denice Cora-Bramble, MD, MBA, executive director of the Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health at Children's National. "Likewise, there is no single answer to systematically solving the problem. But the upward trend, especially here in the District, demands that we develop effective interventions faster."

Children's Obesity Institute tackles these issues from all angles. The Institute's multidisciplinary approach allows for a better understanding of the causes and barriers around this disorder, analyzing them from the laboratories that study the genetics to the community interventions impacting family lifestyles. Scientists, pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, and many others presented their most recent efforts to uncover the underlying risk factors for childhood obesity and the earlier onset of type 2 diabetes.

Presentations included:

  • An overview of Children's General Clinical Research Center (GCRC), which provides special resources, including trained research nurses and high-tech equipment for more effectively investigating growth, body composition, nutritional status, and metabolism from Catherine Klein, PhD, RD, Director of the Bionutrition Research Program at Children's National.

  • A successful community intervention program for inner-city Latino youth developed by pediatrician Nazrat Mirza, MD, director of Children's Obesity Clinic.

  • A study of the role of emergency departments in targeted obesity interventions, especially for low-income communities where families frequently use the emergency department as a primary care resource as well as for urgent care, from Mohsen Saidinejad, MD, of the Division of Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services.

  • Current research by post-doctoral researcher Eleanor Mackey, PhD, of the Division of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, that focuses on the linkages between eating disorders and other maladaptive weight control measures in overweight teens.

  • An overview of new genomic research from geneticist Eric Hoffman, PhD, director of the Center for Genetic Medicine Research, that identifies a single gene which may signal a greater likelihood for high LDLs, and therefore when present may also signal an increase in the chance of high cholesterol, other health factors related to arterial disease, and the onset of type 2 diabetes.

  • An analysis by health policy expert and pediatrician Anjali Jain, MD, of the current state of play for regional and national policies aimed at reducing obesity, from state-by-state school lunch policies to the newest legislation on the national food stamp and WIC programs.

"This is the first of many such meetings that will bring together our best and brightest investigators on this issue," said Joseph Wright, MD, executive director of the Child Health Advocacy Institute at Children's National. "These collaborations allow our teams to develop effective strategies locally through multidisciplinary studies. Then, as a national research and education leader, we can help similar communities replicate our successes."


Contact: Jennifer Leischer
Children's National Medical Center

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