Dell Children’s, Dell Medical School tackle childhood obesity epidemic

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Partners announce newly-designed program for children, teens

Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas and the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin are collaborating on an innovative approach to combat childhood obesity in Central Texas.

Together, Dell Med and Dell Children’s are strengthening their comprehensive obesity program, which will continue to focus on healthy eating, nutrition and exercise while also helping manage complicated health issues related to obesity.

Steven Abrams, MD, a nationally recognized expert in childhood nutrition and chair of Dell Med’s Department of Pediatrics, will lead the redesigned program. Working together with the Department of Population Health at Dell Med, this program aims to serve the needs of all populations of children who are at risk for becoming overweight and obese, or who have existing obesity-related problems.

“This comprehensive program is designed to address multiple, complex medical issues that often go hand-in-hand with obesity,” Abrams said. “We look forward to addressing these issues and helping children and their families live healthier lives.”

Dell Children’s is part of Seton and Ascension, the largest nonprofit health system in the U.S. and the world’s largest Catholic health system. The partnership with Dell Med demonstrates how the school and Seton are working together to change the way care is delivered, especially to communities most impacted by health inequities and people who are not receiving appropriate care. Even though childhood obesity affects all socioeconomic, ethnic and racial groups, its complications disproportionately affect underserved populations.

“By partnering with Dell Med, we’re bringing in world-renowned experts in childhood obesity,” said Deb Brown, RN, MHA, Dell Children’s vice president and chief operating officer. “With these experts we can approach obesity both from the prevention stages to the more advanced levels of chronic disease.”

Abrams, a pediatrician and nationally-renowned expert in pediatric nutrition, is chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition and a member of the Society for Pediatric Research. He was a former associate editor of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. As a member of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee in 2015, Abrams worked to advise the government on food programs.

Childhood obesity and complications

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in five school-aged children in the U.S. is obese. Children with obesity have a higher risk of developing chronic health conditions such as:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart and kidney disease
  • Asthma
  • Sleep apnea
  • Bone and joint problems

The redesigned obesity program will include a focus on disease prevention and population health, with the help of Dell Med researchers and experts.

Emphasis on comprehensive medical care

The program will include Dell Children’s pediatric specialists in areas such as:

  • Cardiology (heart specialists)
  • Endocrinology (diabetes and hormone specialists)
  • Nephrology (kidney specialists)
  • Gastroenterology (liver specialist)
  • Psychology/Psychiatry (mental health experts)

The new program will fully launch in January 2018.