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Training Future Physicians How To Treat Pediatric Obesity

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

The Anthem Blue Cross Foundation has awarded Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA a $412,800 grant to launch the Fit for Residents program. The project will transform the future primary care workforce to be more effective practitioners in the prevention and management of pediatric obesity, and in turn, reduce type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

The rates of pediatric obesity in the United States have more than doubled in less than 30 years. Latino and African American children living in low-income households are at a particularly high risk for obesity. Most primary care providers know these facts, and yet, there is still a gap between this knowledge and the delivery of care.

"The primary care provider is a relatively untapped resource in the prevention and management of childhood obesity, partly due to minimal training in nutrition and physical activity during residency training," said principal investigator Dr. Wendy Slusser, assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA. "We are going beyond the medical model and preparing the future primary care doctors to address the health and psychosocial issues of children of the 21st century."

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The program will focus on the prevention and management of pediatric obesity within community and hospital-based primary health care practices serving racially and ethnically diverse populations. Fit for Residents will link the best practices of UCLA's Pediatric Wellness Initiative with other identified best practices nationally, and develop an innovative curriculum guide for residency and medical school faculty. It will also address the need for evidence-based tools to help doctors easily integrate the recommendations into their practice.

The Fit for Residents model is based on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) breastfeeding work group's success in developing and launching strategies to integrate breastfeeding education into residency programs, educating the providers, and changing clinical practice to optimally support breastfeeding recommendations.

"The ultimate solution to the pediatric obesity epidemic requires a collaborative effort between the primary care provider and families, policy makers, educators, and community partners," added Slusser. "It is time we fully prepare our future workforce through improved residency education."

"We are pleased that the Anthem Blue Cross Foundation is supporting the launch of the Fit for Residents program." said Leslie A. Margolin, president of Anthem Blue Cross. "At Anthem, we are deeply committed to fighting the growing epidemic of childhood obesity that is affecting the health of so many of our children. We hope that through efforts such as these by the Mattel Children's Hospital, the results will be healthier children now who will grow into healthier adults tomorrow. We look forward to this program becoming a model for use across our country's medical field."