Grant to combat childhood obesity goes to Maimonides

January 9, 2012 Editorial Staff
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Childhood obesity has been in the spotlight recently.

In recognition of this increasingly important issue, MaimonidesMedical Center recently received a $150,000 grant from the New YorkState Department of Health (NYSDOH) for a project targeted to helpchildren and families combat obesity.

Overweight and obese children are at great risk for a lifetime ofserious health problems such as diabetes, coronary disease orhypertension, says State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D.Earlier intervention can result in better quality of life andreduced health care problems.

The Kids Weight Down Program at Maimonides, headed by Director LisaAltshuler, PhD, is the specific recipient of the grant moneyprovided by the state.

We teach families healthy nutritional habits and increase physicalactivity through nutrition counseling, group and individualsessions, and exercise classes, Altshuler explained. Theinvolvement of the entire family is considered key to the program’ssuccess.

How big is the issue? Approximately 32 percent of students inpublic schools outside of New York City are overweight or obese,and 40 percent of New York City public school students aged 6through 12 are overweight or obese.

In addition, state health care expenditures related to obesity inchildren and adolescents costs the New York State an estimated $242million each year. Obesity is the second leading cause of morbidityand mortality in New York and the U.S. as a whole, and a key riskfactor for many debilitating diseases.

The focus of the newly created grants in New York State is to trainprimary care pediatricians to ensure appropriate prevention,screening and intervention for at-risk kids.

NYSDOH’s Obesity Prevention Program is working to reduce theprevalence of obesity and overweight children and adolescents, aswell as the burden of obesity-related diseases.

Initiatives include health care programs to promote age-appropriatescreening for obesity, educating community members and officialsabout the public health threat of obesity; and surveillance andevaluation of anti-obesity programs.

Maimonides is one of nine organizations awarded State grantstotaling up to $4.5 million over five years to reduce child andadolescent obesity. The grant funding will support training forhealth care providers and other initiatives.

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