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Pediatric Obesity Symposium at Children's National Medical Center focuses on best practices in obesity programs from cradle to college

Washington, DC—Nearly 200 pediatricians, researchers, advocates, and other stakeholders from around the Washington, DC region, gathered on Wednesday, May 18, 2011 at the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Center (THEARC) to discuss the importance of community-wide involvement and early intervention strategies in childhood obesity programs. Presenters at the Pediatric Obesity Symposium, organized through the Obesity Institute at Children’s National Medical Center, focused on the progress of clinical, advocacy, research, and education efforts underway in the region and in other areas of the country.

“Childhood obesity is a complex issue and as the number of cases continues to rise we need the entire community—from doctors and researchers to policymakers, industry, the private sector, community leaders, schools, teachers, and families—all working together, to help these kids and make a lasting impact,” said Denice Cora-Bramble, MD, MBA, senior vice president of the Goldberg Center for Community Pediatric Health.

The Symposium built on the recent local and national discussions around childhood obesity through presentations focused on the qualities of successful programs.

Presentations included:

  • Greg Rhett, DC Promise Neighborhood Initiative, Inc. (DCPNI) and Nazrat Mirza, MD, ScD, Children’s National Obesity Institute on how DCPNI is an effective partnership between community partners – schools, service providers, community residents – who are committed to creating a physically and emotionally safe environment for children to complete their education from “cradle to college.” Children’s National runs the Fit Family Jr Program in DCPNI, which aims to prevent obesity by targeting preschool children and their families.
  • Examples of how behavior modification models can work through stealth interventions came from keynote speaker Thomas N. Robinson, MD, MPH, Stanford University. Through the Dance for Health Study he discussed the effectiveness of an intervention where physical activity and diet change are a byproduct or “side effect” of the overall activity.
  • An update from Shale Wong, MD, MSPH, Health Policy Advisor in the Office of the First Lady, on how the Let’s Move initiative has grown over the last year including the number of schools who participate, the partnerships to bring local chefs to area schools to create healthier menus, and promoting the President’s Active Lifestyle Award for children who exercise for 60 minutes a day, five days a week for six consecutive weeks.

In keeping with the mission of the Children’s National Obesity Institute, attendees were challenged by speakers to engage at all levels, starting with providing effective and accessible care to families, researching comprehensive solutions, educating the community about how to have an impact, and advocating for policies that will reinforce the importance of healthy lifestyles. The symposium ended with a step performance by students from the Washington Middle School for Girls who are participating in Step Up to Health, a healthy living program, run by pediatrician Yolandra Hancock, MD.

“This symposium recognized that good health is much more than simply health care; it included successful strategies and ideas that attendees can take back to their organizations and even their own families,” said Dr. Hancock, who coordinated the symposium.

Contact: Emily Hartman or Emily Dammeyer, 202-476-4500

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