Boy with meal in a mouth

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WashU Receives $14 Million to Combat Childhood Obesity

June 12, 2018 - 8:56 am

ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - Washington University researchers get $14 million to test a better way to fight childhood obesity. 

“There’s been a real dramatic increase that’s tripled and sadly the children who have obesity are becoming more severely obese,” says Dr. Denise Wilfley, director of Washington University's Center for Healthy Weight and Wellness. 

Wilfey is one of the developers of an intervention called Family-Based Treatment that involves helping both the child and that child's parents.

 “One of the things that we’ve found repeatedly is that the better the parent does, the better the child does, and vice versa, and we know that is not only on how they’re able to manage their weight but also increasing fruits and vegetables and decreasing the unhealthy foods, but also there’s a lot of improvement in their physical activity behaviors,” she says.

This treatment program would be administered by health care providers in primary care settings in the STL area, Louisiana and upstate New York.   According to Wilfley, the impact isn't just on the child and parent, but the whole family.

“It can even have an impact on siblings as well, so it really is a family affair," she says.

This study also aims to increase participation among African American kids.

“In this study 50 percent of our sample are going to be children, both boys and girls, that are African American and though we’ve certainly included children who are African American in past studies and the data looked pretty promising and good, we haven’t had large enough samples to really test that in a powerful way," she says.

The goal is to try to stop obesity in childhood so that it won't cause as many problems later in life.