A new approach to helping kids fight obesity
In late 2007, Brenner Children’s Hospital started Brenner FIT (Families in Training), one of the most comprehensive pediatric obesity programs in the nation. The nation’s high pediatric obesity rate—nearly one-third of American children are categorized as either overweight or obese—created the need for a center whose focus is family-centered treatment.
Led by Joseph Skelton, MD, who was recruited from Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, Brenner FIT offers several unique, collaborative programs intended to help families overcome obstacles to reducing obesity in children. The program also is linked to the Family Obesity Research Center (FORCe), which develops methods and approaches to incorporate treatment for families.
Researchers experienced in child and adult behavior and in weight management help inform the clinical activities of Brenner FIT.
In 2012, Skelton was the lead author of a study published in the International Journal of Obesity, which found that little had been considered about the role of families in pediatric obesity, even though it was clear that family dynamic was contributing heavily a high dropout rate in pediatric obesity treatment programs.
“Traditionally, doctors looked at the patient as the one in the family to focus on, but now we have to look at the entire family as the patient,” Skelton said. “The challenge is to find ways to incorporate the entire family in the process, while allowing for different schedules and different age kids with different health needs. If we don’t find more effective treatments and this epidemic continues, these children will likely go on to become obese adults, resulting in an entire generation with lower life expectancies than their parents’ generation.”