Nationwide Childrens Hospital Expands Ounce of Prevention Program to Combat Against Childhood Obesity

September 20, 2010

The rise in childhood obesity has led to many national initiatives including the first lady’s Let’s Move! campaign and most recently, the launch of Childhood Obesity Awareness Month during the month of September. On a local level, Nationwide Children’s Hospital has implemented numerous programs to help fight childhood obesity and has recently expanded its An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound program to children of all ages.

Ounce of Prevention, designed by a collaborative of physicians and dietitians, including members of the Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children’s, is a program that calls for parents to establish better eating habits for their children from the moment they were born. Originally intended for children at infancy through six years of age, this program has been expanded to include children six years through adolescence in response to rising rates of obesity in older children.

“This program has proved to be an extremely valuable resource for parents,” said Robert Murray, MD, director of The Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition and a professor in the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine. “Now parents who have grown accustomed to using the program for their infant or toddler will have the opportunity to continue using it as a guide for their older children as they grow and develop new eating and activity habits.”

In the past four decades, obesity rates in the United States have soared among all age groups putting children at an early risk for type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even stroke – conditions usually associated with adulthood. In fact, studies show more than 23 million children and teenagers in the U.S. ages 2 to 19 are obese or overweight. For many health care providers, addressing the growing epidemic of obesity is a top priority. Physicians who regularly monitor growth and provide anticipatory guidance related to parenting, eating and physical activity can perform an important intervention in a child’s life.

Ounce of Prevention provides physicians, clinicians and physician office staff with informational tool kits which include evidence-based messages recommended by the Expert Committee within the National Initiative for Children’s Healthcare Quality (NICHQ) and the American Academy of Pediatrics. The kits include materials designed to help physicians and parents prevent childhood obesity throughout all well-child visits, starting from infancy.  Since the program’s introduction in 2007, these toolkits have been sent out to more than 80 sites around Ohio and physicians have identified obesity more effectively, leading to greater parental interest in their child’s physical activity and nutrition advice.

Ounce of Prevention is a collaboration of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Ohio Chapter; Ohio Department of Health; Ohio Dietetic Association; Nationwide Children’s Hospital; Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition; and American Dairy Association Mideast.

For more information, please contact Amy Sternstein, MD, coordinator of the Ounce of Prevention program at Nationwide Children's Hospital at (614) 722-4824 or Ann Weidenbenner, MS, RD, LD, Program Director at the Ohio Department of Health at (614) 644-7035. Additional information is available online at www.NationwideChildrens.org/HealthyWeight.

About Nationwide Children's Hospital

Named to the Top 10 Honor Roll on U.S. News & World Report’s 2017-18 list of “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals,” Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of America’s largest not-for-profit freestanding pediatric healthcare systems providing wellness, preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents, as well as adult patients with congenital disease. Nationwide Children’s has a staff of nearly 13,000 providing state-of-the-art pediatric care during more than 1.4 million patient visits annually. As home to the Department of Pediatrics of The Ohio State University College of Medicine, Nationwide Children’s physicians train the next generation of pediatricians and pediatric specialists. The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is one of the Top 10 National Institutes of Health-funded freestanding pediatric research facilities. More information is available at NationwideChildrens.org.