Robert Schwartz, M.D., a pediatrician at Brenner Children’s Hospital, has been awarded a grant from the North Carolina Health and Wellness Trust Fund (HWTF) for a pilot study to prevent childhood obesity.
The $70,000 grant will be administered through the North Carolina Pediatric Society Foundation’s “Healthy, Fit and Strong Program.” This program will support a childhood obesity prevention pilot project at four different community-level sites across the state.
“Our goal is prevention,” said Schwartz, lead project coordinator. “We want to provide communities with an inexpensive but effective plan to help families make better choices and live healthier lives.”
Over 80 families will be enrolled in the pilot project statewide in Goldsboro, Raleigh, Chapel Hill and Winston-Salem. Parents will receive weekly nutrition consultations with a registered dietitian and physical activity provided by the YMCA three times a week.
Family Membership at the YMCA will be offered for free to all families for the duration of the 12-week program. Families attending most of the nutrition sessions (and whose children attend most of the physical activity sessions) will have their family membership extended to 6 months. After this time, the family membership can be extended for an additional 6 months based on the usual YMCA sliding scale fee. Families will be charged $25 to participate in the program. If they complete the sixth-month evaluation, the fee will be refunded to them. If they complete the one-year evaluation, they will receive $25.
In order to qualify for the program, a family must have a child between the ages of 6 and 11 and a child with a (body mass index) BMI in the 85-97th percentile. Families do not need a physician referral to take part in the program.
“The goal of the Healthy, Fit and Strong Program is to develop a low-cost model for family-focused, community-based childhood obesity prevention programs in North Carolina,” Schwartz said. “The hope is that this project will provide an economically sustainable model for expansion to other communities.”
North Carolina pediatricians who are co-investigators are: Dr. Christopher Griffin, Goldsboro YMCA; Drs. Sarah Armstrong & Eliana Perrin, Carrboro/Chapel Hill YMCA; Dr. John Rusher, Raleigh YMCA. Dr. Schwartz will work with the Winston-Salem YMCA.
Paula Faria: firstname.lastname@example.org, 336-716-1279