Obesity is an escalating problem for all age groups in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than one-third of U.S. adults and 46 percent of children are obese. The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston is at the forefront of obesity prevention, research and treatment and its faculty members have developed community, education and technology-based obesity intervention programs that have worldwide impact. Healthcare specialists are available to discuss obesity prevention, genetics, nutrition, surgical solutions, childhood obesity, fertility and obesity co-morbidities and chronic diseases.
Experts who are available for interviews to discuss topics relating to obesity include:
• Cristina Barroso, Dr.PH, assistant professor of health promotion & behavioral sciences at The University of Texas School of Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus, is available to discuss obesity prevention in both English and Spanish. She can discuss community-wide obesity prevention campaigns targeting both adults and children.
• Perry E. Bickel, M.D., director of the Center for Diabetes and Obesity Research at The Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases (IMM) at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, is tackling the obesity crisis in the United States by attempting to remodel the molecular machinery of fat storage in cells.
“The fat cell is the professional at storing fat,” Bickel said. “But, the storage capacity of our fat tissue can be exceeded. When that happens, fatty acids spill over into other tissues such as muscle and liver, and those tissues may malfunction in ways that lead to diabetes and other complications.” Bickel’s contributions to fat-cell biology include the discovery and characterization of the first lipid droplet protein in the perilipin family that is linked to fat burning.
• Henry S. Brown, III, Ph.D., is associate professor of management policy and community health in the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living at The University of Texas School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus. Brown’s research focuses on health economics, diabetes, and childhood obesity. Brown can discuss crime related to obesity, social norms, productivity and diabetes, and the cost-effectiveness of obesity interventions.
• R. Sue Day, Ph.D., is associate professor and associate dean for research at The University of Texas School of Public Health at Houston. Her research interests are in chronic disease epidemiology with a focus on nutrition in the etiology and prevention of obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease and diabetes and the design, development, and evaluation of dietary intake assessment methodologies. Day is the principal investigator of the Qué Sabrosa Vida Nutrition Initiative, a community based nutrition program which includes recommendations for nutrition, physical activity and water consumption. Qué Sabrosa Vida also includes a custom food pyramid which is based on the foods of a traditional Mexican-American border diet. Over 16,000 residents along the El Paso, Texas and Cd. Juarez, Mexico border have participated in the program. Dr. Day can discuss the importance of dietary and physical activity advice for the Mexican American population and communities.
• Soledad Liliana Escobar-Chaves, Dr.PH, is assistant professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences at The University of Texas School of Public Health. Escobar-Chaves is able to discuss media consumption as a contributing factor to childhood obesity, through the Fun Families parent-focused intervention study.
• Alexandra Evans, Ph.D., MPH, is associate professor of behavioral sciences and health promotion in the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living at The University of Texas School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus, part of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Evans has more than 10 years of experience in the development and evaluation of behaviorally-based nutrition and physical activity interventions targeting children and parents. She is involved in several studies with the Austin-based Sustainable Food Center. She can discuss issues related to the role of parents and the home environment in the prevention of childhood obesity. She can also discuss innovative interventions that increase availability and access to locally grown foods in order to promote healthy eating in underserved communities.
• Deanna M. Hoelscher, Ph.D., RD, LD, CNS, is director of the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living and a professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences at The University of Texas School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus. Hoelscher has more than 15 years of experience in the development, implementation, evaluation and dissemination of nutrition and physical activity programs for youth in obesity prevention, cardiovascular risk reduction, diabetes prevention and bone health. Hoelscher is the principal investigator of the School Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) study to determine the prevalence of childhood overweight in Texas and the Coordinated Approach To Child Health (CATCH) elementary program in Travis County, TX.
• Kevin O. Hwang, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston and co-director of the UT Weight Management Clinic, is studying online weight loss programs and why they work for some people. With the help of the Center for Clinical Research & Evidence Based Medicine and the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS), Hwang is studying the nature and impact of social support available from online weight loss communities. “I want to find out if people in these communities are successful because of their own personalities or because of something going on in these online communities,” Hwang said.
• Steven H. Kelder, Ph.D., MPH is co-director of the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living and professor of epidemiology at The University of Texas School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus. In 2007 he was named the Beth Toby Grossman Professor in Spirituality and Healing from the UT School of Public Health. Kelder has more than 15 years experience in design and evaluation of child and adolescent research. He has particular emphasis on interventions designed for promotion of physical activity and healthy eating, obesity prevention and substance use prevention. He is one of the lead investigators of CATCH project, a research-based program that guides elementary schools, families and children in being healthy, reaching more than a million Texas children and numerous children across the United States and other international countries.
• Connie Klein, NP, an instructor in surgery at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, guides patients through the surgical weight-loss process. From the pre-operative screenings to the hospital bedside to follow-up appointments, Klein is an integral part of a multi-disciplinary team dedicated to each patient’s weight-loss success.
• Harold W. Kohl, III, Ph.D., is professor of epidemiology and kinesiology in the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living at The University of Texas School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus. Kohl was lead epidemiologist and team leader in the physical activity and health branch of the division of nutrition and physical activity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kohl was an Executive Committee Member and Leader of Scientific Review of the 2008 U.S. Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. Kohl can discuss the benefits of physical activity for adults and children, as well as community approaches for increasing physical activity.
• Nancy Murray, Dr.PH, director of the community engagement component for the Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS) of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, is working with civic leaders to address the epidemic of obesity in Houston. Murray is also assistant professor of behavioral sciences at the UT School of Public Health. Murray organized a CCTS Community Advisory Board, which identified obesity as a critical health issue and is working with UT faculty members to develop evidence-based strategies. Murray is also actively involved in the Coordinated Approach To Child Health program or CATCH, which was created to promote physical activity, healthy food choices and prevent tobacco use in elementary school aged children.
• Cheryl L. Perry, Ph.D., is professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences and regional dean of The University of Texas School of Public Health Austin Regional Campus. Perry’s research interests include the developing, implementing and evaluating health promotion programs for children and adolescents. In particular, smoking and alcohol use prevention, healthy eating and physical activity; school-based, peer, family, and community programs. Dr. Perry was one of the lead investigators of the original CATCH main trial and can discuss the development of successful childhood obesity prevention programs.
• Cynthia Phelps, Ph.D., an assistant professor of health informatics at The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences, designs web games that encourage healthy eating habits. For example in Food Fury, children learn how to categorize food into healthy and unhealthy groups. Her research focuses on the use of technology in teaching and learning. She combines her background in learning and memory with cognitive science, neuroscience and education to create various technology-based learning environments.
• Belinda Reininger, Dr.PH, is associate professor of behavioral sciences at The University of Texas School of Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus. Reininger led an initiative to establish the Brownsville Farmer’s Market to help residents tackle and prevent obesity. Reininger is available to discuss obesity prevention through media interventions and environmental changes particularly related to adults and families in the Hispanic population.
• Shreela Sharma, Ph.D., RD, LD, is assistant professor of epidemiology and assistant director, dietetic internship program at The University of Texas School of Public Health. Sharma is a behavioral epidemiologist and lead investigator in development of the CATCH early childhood program and its evaluation among children enrolled in Harris County Head Start. She is available to discuss the risk factors to and prevention of obesity among preschool-age children.
• Melissa Stigler, Ph.D., is assistant professor of epidemiology at the Michael & Susan Dell Center for Advancement of Healthy Living at The University of Texas School of Public Health. Stigler’s research looks at behaviors that increase the risk for obesity and development of chronic diseases in adolescents in Delhi, India by utilizing creative social marketing approaches to address the growing obesity epidemic.
• Kerem Shuval, Ph.D., is assistant professor of epidemiology at The University of Texas School of Public Health Dallas Regional Campus. Shuval can discuss physical activity promotion in the community and primary care settings and the importance of physical activity in offsetting obesity and chronic diseases.
• Brad E. Snyder, M.D., is an assistant professor of surgery at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston and director of clinical research at Minimally Invasive Surgeons of Texas (MIST). Much of his research focuses on surgical weight-loss success and failure, surgical safety and also bariatric surgery to alleviate symptoms of type 2 diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome. Offering the safest, most effective bariatric surgeries through laparoscopy and also an incision-free approach, Snyder sees patients at The University of
• Ximena Urrutia-Rojas, RN, Dr.PH, is associate professor of management policy and community health at The University of Texas School of Public Health San Antonio Regional Campus and is a member of the Texas Statewide Obesity task force. Urrutia-Rojas’ research focuses on assessment of childhood obesity and related risk for metabolic disorders. Urrutia-Rojas is able to discuss intervention programs that aim to prevent and reverse obesity and chronic diseases in minority children and their families, with an emphasis on Latinos. Urrutia-Rojas is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.
• Evangelina Villagomez, Ph.D., assistant professor of acute and continuing care at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Nursing is currently doing research and outreach efforts in local school districts and community clinics to address obesity and the prevention of diabetes and cardiovascular disease in Hispanic women and children. Villagomez can answer questions related to the prevention and care of diabetes and obesity in women and children struggling with their weight. She is available for interviews in both English and Spanish.
• Erik B. Wilson, M.D., chief of the Division of Minimally Invasive & Elective General Surgery at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, is a leader in bariatric surgical care and advanced robotic surgery. As medical director of bariatric surgery at Memorial Hermann – Texas Medical Center, an American Society of Bariatric Surgery Center of Excellence, he has performed hundreds of laparoscopic weight-loss surgeries including gastric bypass, adjustable gastric banding, duodenal switch, sleeve gastrectomy, revisional bariatric surgery and incision-free bariatric surgery. These surgical procedures, Wilson says, are tools morbidly obese patients can use to achieve a healthier weight when non-surgical weight loss programs have failed.
• Todd D. Wilson, M.D., an instructor in surgery at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, specializes in single-incision bariatric surgery. He recently joined Minimally Invasive Surgeons of Texas and sees patients at The University of Texas Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery Center, 6700 West Loop South, Suite 500.
• Carol Wolin-Riklin, MA, RD, LD, is the bariatric nutrition coordinator for The University of Texas Medical School at Houston’s Minimally Invasive Surgeons of Texas. She works with patients at The University of Texas Bariatric & Metabolic Surgery Center to ensure they have the nutrition support they need to be successful with healthy weight loss. Before their surgery and throughout their journey to achieve their weight-loss goals, Wolin-Riklin provides her patients nutritional instruction and monitors vitamin levels, tailoring food plans to each patient’s nutritional needs.
• Heinrich Taegtmeyer, M.D., professor of medicine at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, has done extensive published research on the link between obesity, diabetes and heart failure. He has worked with gastric bypass surgery patients to study how quickly the body responds to weight loss. His research has shown that weight loss leads to improved insulin sensitivity and heart function. Taegtmeyer can answer questions about weight loss, diabetes prevention and heart health.
• David J. Wainwright, M.D., a professor in the Division of Plastic & Reconstruction Surgery at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, specializes in body contouring after massive weight loss. Skin stretched by years of morbid obesity may begin to sag with rapid, significant weight loss, causing skin irritation, rashes, infections, back strain and pain. Wainwright, a board-certified plastic surgeon, is available to discuss reconstructive procedures that get rid of patients’ unwanted, unnecessary skin and help improve their lifestyle and body image.
Other experts at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston also are available for interviews.
Source: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston