Combating Childhood Obesity Focus of Residency Project Grants

March 11, 2013 02:25 pm Matt Brown

Family physician Gordon Zubrod, M.D., of York, Pa., smiles with some of the youngsters who participated in the York Hospital Family Medicine Residency's "Get Fit! Have Fun!" AIM-HI community outreach program in 2012.

The AAFP's Americans In Motion-Healthy Interventions (AIM-HI) initiative is now accepting applications(17 page PDF) for the second round of its Childhood Obesity Project for Residency Programs.

According to Janet Ann McAndrews, M.P.H., C.H.E.S., manager of the AAFP public health program, the Academy plans to award 10-18 grants of between $10,000 and $30,000 to family medicine residency programs around the country to help each develop a one-year, family-centered community project designed to reduce childhood obesity and promote fitness.

McAndrews said a primary focus for this second of year of the project, which is being funded through a $250,000 grant from the MetLife Foundation, will be to more robustly monitor participants' clinical and behavioral outcomes to help determine levels of success in each community outreach program.

IOM Report Offers Strategies to Advance Fitness, Health Science in Youth

Recommendations contained in the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) September 2012 Fitness Measures and Health Outcomes in Youth(www.iom.edu) report could make new population-based data available that would allow school systems to evaluate and target students who would most benefit from fitness interventions. That's according to a recent editorial(archpedi.jamanetwork.com) (extract) in JAMA Pediatrics by Russell Pate, Ph.D., chair of the committee that developed the IOM report, and report committee member Stephen Daniels, M.D., Ph.D.

Among the report's recommendations are a number of strategies for advancing the science on the relationship between fitness measures and health in youth, including conducting

  • studies on the associations between health and components of fitness in youth;
  • longitudinal studies to determine how health markers related to fitness track from youth to adulthood; and
  • a mix of randomized controlled trials and studies to identify the relationships between changes in cardiorespiratory fitness and subsequent changes in health risk factors in youth.

"The report draws attention to the fact that we have not been monitoring fitness in the population of children and adolescents during an era in which physical activity has declined and obesity rates have skyrocketed," the authors wrote. "Without literally stating it, the report makes a key point: The fitness of our youth is a critical concern, and it is time for us to do a better job of monitoring it in the U.S. population."

To that end, a number of residency programs from the original 2012 group will be included among the 2013 grantees to gauge how well they do in the long term in expanding the program, integrating it into the community, and measuring its success in terms of reducing childhood obesity and promoting healthy lifestyle modifications.

"We had several programs that exceeded their goals last year," McAndrews said. "So we want to see how it works going forward."

AIM-HI offers physicians a number of resources to help patients follow a healthy lifestyle, including three primary tools:

  • a fitness inventory, which gauges patients' confidence about their fitness and their readiness to change;
  • a food and activity journal, which helps patients track healthy eating, physical activity and emotional well-being lifestyle behaviors; and
  • a fitness prescription pad, through which the patient and the physician establish mutually agreed-on goals that are assessed periodically.

Preliminary results from a research project conducted by the AAFP National Research Network indicate that AIM-HI can help patients increase their physical activity, make healthier choices, lose weight and maintain those lifestyle changes.

In addition to the positive impact the AIM-HI program seeks to have on the community each participating residency program serves, it also is intended to make a difference among the residents themselves, said McAndrews.

"This (AIM-HI grant) is not just money to help curb childhood obesity, but a way to educate these residents so they are able to learn how to serve as role models for healthy living," she said. "When they go into these communities, we want them to be able to tell people, 'I have a fitness prescription too, and this is how I make it work with my busy schedule.'"

Applications may be e-mailed to Jacklyn Cremer through the submission deadline of May 31. Awardees will be notified in August.

"The report draws attention to the fact that we have not been monitoring fitness in the population of children and adolescents during an era in which physical activity has declined and obesity rates have skyrocketed," the authors wrote. "Without literally stating it, the report makes a key point: The fitness of our youth is a critical concern, and it is time for us to do a better job of monitoring it in the U.S. population."


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