Obesity is a unique medical problem because it affects a large proportion of the population across the entire lifespan, causes comorbidities in virtually every organ system including mental health and social functioning, typically affects several members of the same family, and is remarkably refractory to treatment. Accordingly, the MassGeneral Hospital for Children Weight Center is a unique program, with the following goals: multidisciplinary clinical care for children with obesity, lifespan approach, collaborative research.
MassGeneral Hospital for Children Weight Center: Collaborative Research
Alison G. Hoppin, MD, Associate Physician in Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition, MassGeneral Hospital for Children, Associate Director for Pediatric Programs, Mass General Weight Center, Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School
Obesity is a unique medical problem because it affects a large proportion of the population across the entire lifespan, causes comorbidities in virtually every organ system including mental health and social functioning, typically affects several members of the same family, and is remarkably refractory to treatment.
Accordingly, the MassGeneral Hospital for Children Weight Center is a unique program, with the following goals:
Multidisciplinary clinical care for children with obesity
Our research efforts take several different approaches, which are outlined above and detailed below.
1) Create a network: Expertise in obesity is spread across a wide range of divisions and locations at MGHfC. Accordingly, we convened a Pediatric Obesity Collaborative Retreat in May 2012 to catalyze clinical and academic collaboration. Speakers and participants represented most pediatric subspecialties and primary care, Pediatric Surgery, Nursing and Anesthesia, the Stoeckle Center for Primary Care, MGH Community Health Centers, the Center for Community Health Improvement, the Institute of Sports Psychology, and the Newton-Wellesley Hospital Weight Management Program. The first outcome of the Collaborative Retreat is the development of a set of patient-education materials for use by clinicians throughout the MGHfC system.
2) Accomplish our own research program: The focus of research is informed by the characteristics of our program:
Clinical research from the Weight Center’s pediatric program has included a trial of a curriculum designed to attenuate the development of obesity in pre-school aged children (a collaboration with the Massachusetts WIC program). We also collaborated with Craig Canapari of the Pediatric Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine programs in his study of the relationship between sleep apnea, fat distribution and insulin resistance in obese children.
Future projects will focus on adolescents in our weight loss surgery program, addressing the physiologic and perhaps psychological changes that accompany dramatic weight loss and resolution of comorbidities.
3) Support research projects that emanate from other departments at MGHfC: The MassGeneral Hospital for Children Weight Center supports clinical research projects that are initiated by investigators from other divisions, by collaborating on study design and/or helping to recruit subjects from our clinical population. Ongoing projects include a study of cardiac remodeling in adolescents with metabolic syndrome using cardiac MRI (a collaboration with Michael Jerosch-Herold and Ravi Shah, of the radiology and cardiology departments). In addition, we are helping to recruit subjects for a study examining the effects of low-dose growth hormone on visceral fat and cardiovascular risk factors in adolescent girls with obesity (principal investigator Madhusmita Misra).
4) Collaborate with the research arm of the MGH Weight Center: The MGH Weight Center has several active research programs that focus on 1) the pathophysiology on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in obesity and 2) physiological and molecular mechanisms of gastrointestinal regulation of body weight. While this research has largely focused on adults, the expansion of this research to include children is a top priority for the center. As the Mass General Weight Center continues to expand its pediatric programs in medical management of obesity and pediatric surgical programs, it will also expand pediatric research endeavors.
Members of the MassGeneral Weight Center for Children Pediatric team:
MassGeneral Weight Center for Children bibliography:
Adolescent Weight Loss Surgery:
Collaborations with other MGHfC specialists:
Basic science research:
Learn how the Research Council supports and enhances research within MassGeneral Hospital for Children as well as new initiatives and directions for pediatric research at Mass General.
Learn how researchers at MassGeneral Hospital for Children are finding new treatments that advance pediatric care.