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Highmark Provides Pediatricians With Resources to Combat Childhood Obesity
Date:7/27/2009

PITTSBURGH, July 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Childhood obesity causes lifelong illness, leads to serious health complications in young adults and can lead to premature death in adulthood due to medical conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and hypertension. In addition to its significant human toll, childhood obesity alone costs the nation's health care system some $14 billion annually.

To address the continued tide of obesity in children, Highmark is providing a new Childhood Obesity Physician Toolkit to more than 3,500 family practice doctors, pediatricians and pediatric specialists in Central and Western Pennsylvania. The toolkit, created in partnership with health care professionals, contains best practices on the assessment and treatment of childhood obesity, guidelines and tips for parents on nutrition and activity, as well as resources to help physicians better address obesity issues within their practice.

"Childhood obesity is an epidemic that requires coordination and collaboration," said Dr. Mary Goessler, a pediatrician and Highmark medical director. "We believe that providing doctors with the toolkit will help them ensure a healthy future for the 33 percent of Pennsylvania's youth who are considered to be overweight or obese."

Data shows that children diagnosed with obesity are two to three times more likely to be admitted to the hospital than nonobese children, making health care costs for obese children about three times more expensive than an average-weight child.

"The toolkit represents a partnership between Highmark and the pediatric community and will go a long way in helping us to improve identification of obesity with its complications and resources to help treat them," said Dr. Ronald Williams, a pediatrician at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital.

This is the second edition of the Childhood Obesity Physician Toolkit, which was first
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SOURCE Highmark Inc.
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