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Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute awards Rush $230,000 for childhood obesity prevention

Obesity is one of the greatest health risks for children in the United States and, unfortunately, its on the rise. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of obese children in America has tripled since 1980. To help Rush University Medical Center more effectively address this preventable threat, The Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute has awarded Rush University Medical Center a $230,000 grant to support a first-of-its-kind childhood obesity project at Rush.

Rush plans to use the grant to pilot an 18-month test program, A Combined Biomedical and Psychosocial Approach to Weight Management, led by Cathy Lynn Joyce, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics. In collaboration with an interdisciplinary team, families with children whose weights are rising above the ideal body weight will be assisted in their goal of preventing childhood obesity.

The program will help physicians to better understand the complicated factors that lead to childhood obesity and to develop a concrete protocol for effective behavioral change focusing on the child and their family. Rush is the first medical center to implement a formalized program utilizing an interdisciplinary team of health care professionals coupled with direct family involvement.

In many health care settings, involvement of the family is implied, but not supported. Our goal is to provide assessments, interventions and tools for both the child and family, Joyce said.

The pilot program will run February 2008 through July 2009. The project team will enroll patients from pediatric and adolescent practices at Rush with an economically, racially, ethnically and religiously diverse population of families. The project aims to enroll at least 40 to 50 families, with staff tracking the progress of each patient and family for 12 months. The team from Rush will include pediatricians, nurses, nutrition and fitness specialists, social workers and other specialists whose talents may help each enrolled child and family better address their concerns and achieve a healthier lifestyle.

The Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute was founded in 1911 by a leading Chicago businessman as a nonprofit foundation with a mandate to pursue the investigation of the cause of disease and the prevention and relief of human suffering in Chicago. Today, this philanthropy is managed by a board of volunteers dedicated to carrying out this goal. For eight years, The Institute has created and funded innovative programs to address and reverse the obesity epidemic. The hallmark of this effort is CLOCC, the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children, which now has more than 1,300 participants and is considered a national model. This new grant to Rushs program provides a significant complement to that effort and its clinical practices research.

Support of this childhood obesity reduction project and another grant of nearly $125,000 for an important patient-safety initiative at Rush are but two examples of the ways The Otho S.A. Sprague Memorial Institute continues to carry out its philanthropic mission.

As a Chicago-based philanthropy, The Institute has focused on enabling promising local health and wellness initiatives to develop and replicate. Over the years, Rush and its predecessors have consistently used our grants to achieve our shared vision. We are confident these grants will continue this pattern of significant outcomes that promote health, improve care, and reduce costs through innovation said James N. Alexander, The Institutes Executive Director.


Contact: Mary Ann Schultz
Rush University Medical Center

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