Friday, May 18, 2012

Weight Center hosts Pediatric Obesity Collaborative Retreat


WEIGHING THE ISSUES: From left, Craig Canapari, MD, MGHfC pulmonologist and sleep expert; Elmy Trevejo, MD, Affiliated Pediatric Practices Needham; and Paul Beopple, MD, pediatric endocrinologist for the MGH Weight Center

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects that three out of four obese children will become obese adults, increasing the obese adult population to 42 percent by 2030. Just days after the report, on May 10, the MGH Weight Center brought together clinicians from 24 different programs – many within MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) – for the first Pediatric Obesity Collaborative Retreat.

The daylong forum was created by Janey S. Pratt, MD, director of the Weight Center, Alison Hoppin, MD, associate director for pediatric programs at the Weight Center, and Christina Scirica, MD, MPH, director of the Coordinated Health and Asthma Management Program at MGHfC. Its aim was to increase collaboration among different teams involved in childhood obesity treatment and research and to share information about existing resources and treatment programs, including those offered by the Weight Center. “There are so many people at MGH working on childhood obesity,” said Pratt. “It’s important for us to collaborate.”

The retreat featured research presentations from staff in clinical programs related to obesity and related conditions – such as fatty liver disease, asthma, sleep apnea, endocrine issues, and diabetes and insulin resistance. “It was really eye-opening to hear about how much is going on in so many different areas,” said Caren T. Harris, NP, of Pediatric Surgery.  “The commitment was coming through loud and clear.”

The keynote speaker was Elsie M. Taveras, MD, MPH, a pediatrician and researcher who serves as co-director of the Obesity Prevention Program at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and director of One Step Ahead, a multidisciplinary childhood overweight prevention and early management program at Children’s Hospital Boston. Taveras shared several strategies for addressing obesity – including focusing on evidence-based targets for counseling, referring children to specialists, using health information technology and providing support to families via mobile technology. She said effective communication was key, especially for behavioral changes, and emphasized that clinicians need to recognize patients are not all at the same stage of readiness to change. Caregivers must find the right combination of services for each individual.

Building upon Taveras’ recommendations and suggestions made by retreat participants during breakout sessions, Pratt said members of the MGH Weight Center will develop evidence-based treatment and referral guidelines for families and clinicians to share with the MGH community. They also plan to develop a postgraduate course for pediatric caregivers, which will be offered in May 2013.

For more information about the MGH Weight Center, visit

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