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Brenner Children’s Hospital Pediatrician to study ways to get Latino population more active

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – Shari Barkin, M.D., a pediatrician at Brenner Children’s Hospital, will partner with the Winston-Salem YWCA to begin studying ways Latino families can be more physically active and improve their overall health.

Barkin and the Downtown Health Plaza will begin recruiting families this fall for “On the Move” sessions. Families must be Latino, have a child from age 8 to 11, and have one adult who is willing to participate in the activities. The clinics will feature a group discussion on activity and/or diet, and an assessment of physical health and activity. All participants will have their blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) checked. Some families will also participate in group activities and receive telephone-based advice on increasing and maintaining a healthy degree of activity. Families who enroll will also receive a free one-year membership to the local YWCA. The clinics are expected to start in January of 2006.

“We are testing the idea of using a recreation center as an extension of a primary physician’s office for obesity prevention and treatment,” Barkin said. “We are looking for trends, such as whether participants stabilize or lower their BMI.”

This is the first effort of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine Collaborative to Strengthen Families and Neighborhoods, Barkin said. “The collaboration is designed so that families and neighborhood agencies can work together to address childhood health issues, “she said. “Childhood obesity is our first target child health issue because it affects one in three children in our community.”

The Latino community was selected for participation in the study because “obesity affects minorities more heavily and this group has not been studied to a large measure,” Barkin said. She hopes to recruit 240 families for the two-year study.

“We hope if families get moving -- improve their activity level and frequency -- then other positive health behaviors will follow,” she said.

The $275,000 study was funded by the National Institutes of Health. Brenner Children’s Hospital and the Wake Forest University School of Medicine are part of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

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Media Contacts: Rae Bush (336) 716-6878, rbush@wfubmc.edu; or Karen Richardson (336) 716-4453, krchrdsn@wfubmc.edu.

About Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center: Wake Forest Baptist is an academic health system comprised of North Carolina Baptist Hospital, Wake Forest University School of Medicine and Brenner Children’s Hospital. It is licensed to operate 1,187 acute care, rehabilitation, psychiatry and long-term care beds and is consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Hospitals” by U.S. News & World Report. Brenner Children’s was named one of the top children’s hospitals in the nation by Child magazine.

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