Expert Advisory: Childhood Obesity Awareness Month

Virginia Commonwealth University has experts available in pediatric obesity, psychology, medicine and fashion to discuss a variety of topics including healthy eating, physical activity, lifestyle programs and strategies, trends and causes related to childhood obesity during the month of September.

A Growing Problem
Daphne Bryan, M.D., assistant professor in VCU’s Department of Family Medicine and medical director of the Hayes E. Willis Health Center in Richmond, can talk about trends in childhood obesity, causes of obesity, obesity-related diseases, strategies to combat the epidemic, educating patients about healthy eating, weight loss, controlling stress with limited resources and current research at VCU.

Weight-Based Teasing and Parenting Strategies for Promoting Healthy Eating
Suzanne Mazzeo, Ph.D., is a psychologist whose research is primarily in the area of eating disorders and obesity.

She can talk about childhood obesity, healthy eating, weight-based teasing, eating disorders and parenting strategies for promoting healthy eating. Her projects include a research program called NOURISH, which stands for Nourishing Our Understanding of Role Modeling to Improve Support and Health, which arms parents with strategies and skills to help teach their children to lead a healthy lifestyle. The program is also designed to help parents become role models for positive health change. Mazzeo also has expertise in health behavior change, especially changing eating and exercise behaviors; ethnic differences in eating and exercising behaviors; and developing culturally competent interventions to promote healthy eating and exercising behaviors. Mazzeo also is the principal investigator of a study examining parenting concerns among women with eating disorders.

The T.E.E.N.S Program - Making Healthy Living Fun
Edmond P. Wickham III, M.D., an assistant professor of internal medicine and pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism, can talk about childhood obesity and a multidisciplinary research program called T.E.E.N.S, which stands for Teaching, Encouragement, Exercise, Nutrition and Support. It’s the only program of its kind in Central Virginia. The two-year lifestyle modification research program helps adolescents between the ages of 11 and 18 lead a healthy lifestyle and manage their weight. Through the program, researchers are gaining an understanding of the genetic, social and physiologic components responsible for childhood obesity and developing effective treatment programs. The program includes expertise from across VCU, including the departments of pediatrics, exercise science, family medicine and psychology. In addition, Wickham has ongoing basic research examining how fat cells may directly contribute to health problems related to being overweight.

Media and Body Image
Donna Reamy, associate chair of the Department of Fashion Design and Merchandising in the VCU School of the Arts, can discuss how the fashion media’s depictions of women impact the body image of consumers, including younger consumers. Reamy is the author of a research paper titled “The Global Impact of the Fashion Industry and Media on Body Image.” She can discuss the ways that women are portrayed in the fashion media, the aesthetic reasons for it, how portrayals have changed over the years and the impact on consumers.

Source:  Virginia Commonwealth University

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