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Leading Pediatric Health Care Experts Launch National Action Plan to Stop Childhood Obesity Epidemic

June 2007

(Boston, MA) Today the National Initiative for Children’s Health care Quality (NICHQ) announced a bold plan to help put an end to the nation’s childhood obesity epidemic. NICHQ is partnering with leading medical and healthcare organizations to create an implementation strategy and an action plan to assist practitioners in implementing the comprehensive, evidence- based recommendations released by the Expert Committee on the Assessment, Prevention and Treatment of Child and Adolescent Overweight and Obesity. This group, supported by the American Medical Association (AMA), Centers for Disease and Control & Prevention (CDC) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), released these recommendations today.

“NICHQ’s Childhood Obesity Action Network has now received the evidence that defines healthcare’s role in addressing this epidemic,” said CEO and President of NICHQ Charles Homer, MD, MPH, a pediatrician and associate professor at Harvard University. “As an independent healthcare quality organization, NICHQ is now in a unique position to lead the effort in ensuring these recommendations are implemented, so ultimately our nation’s children can lead healthy, productive lives,” he added.

According to the CDC, childhood obesity is the biggest health problem facing children and adolescents today, with cases tripling in the last 30 years. At the 2006 launch of NICHQ’s Childhood Obesity Action Network, more than 40 leading health care organizations committed to collective action. These groups include the American Academy of Pediatrics, Association of American Indian Physicians, American Heart Association, American Dietetic Association, National Association of Nurse Practitioners, National Association of Community Health Centers and other leading groups dedicated to the cause. The Action Network, through its membership, unites clinical and policy experts dedicated to eradicating this disease as well as reducing disparities.

“With more than 600 healthcare professionals, quality improvement leaders, childhood obesity experts and child health advocates, NICHQ’s Action Network works to ensure that providers have access to best practices on prevention and treatment of childhood obesity and the tools necessary to implement these recommendations,” said Lisa Simpson, MB, Bch, MPH, FAAP , Policy Chair of the Childhood Obesity Action Network and Professor and Director of the Child Policy Research Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

A major component of the recommendations is the strong emphasis placed on the healthcare provider’s role in communicating obesity prevention and treatment issues with parents. The Action Network is developing a comprehensive Implementation Guide for healthcare providers that will include detailed tools they can use with their patients. At the same time, the Action Network is developing resources for health professionals and others to work with policymakers at the national, state and local levels to advance policies that support comprehensive approaches.

Implementing the Childhood Obesity Recommendations
The research, information and tools available through NICHQ’s Action Network include best practices in obesity assessment, prevention, and treatment, as well as a database of successful programs from the Action Network’s members. The Action Network will provide access to proven and promising tools, as well as clinical and policy resources. The Action Network will serve as a vehicle to evaluate efforts and share results with other members.

In 2006, NICHQ launched an initiative to identify successful programs addressing childhood obesity. Over 80 organizations responded to the RFP. The three winners, now recognized for their outstanding achievements in childhood obesity and treatment, include Overweight Children: A Comprehensive Approach to Address the Epidemic, Kaiser Permanente Northern California; Keep ME Healthy: The Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative, The Maine Center for Public Health; and Get More Energy, Envision New Mexico.

NICHQ’s Action Network is aimed at rapidly sharing knowledge, successful practices and innovation. Through the network, providers will:

  • Access tools and technical assistance to improve clinical care, including a comprehensive Implementation Guide. The Implementation Guide will be available at www.nichq.org and will include specific assessment, prevention and treatment strategies for health care providers to facilitate putting the new recommendations into practice. Supplemental tools that providers can use with their patients will also be provided.
  • Receive ongoing support and consultation from national experts as they implement the new recommendations. A series of “Q-Calls” will be scheduled (dates to be announced) for healthcare providers to get more information on specific implementation strategies from leading experts.
  • Search a comprehensive database including best practices in childhood obesity care, that include strategies to reduce health disparities and provide culturally competent care for all families.
  • Communicate with other members via dynamic information portal, which will include a listserv, discussion board and special interest groups around particular topics (e.g., care for specific minority populations, care for morbidly obese, etc.).
  • Receive a quarterly newsletter as well as access to national conferences that address childhood obesity.
  • Gain online access to process and outcome measures to help clinicians evaluate their program’s progress.

As an independent, action-oriented pediatric quality improvement organization, NICHQ is focused on bridging the gap between the current and desired state of healthcare for children. Its national headquarters are based in Boston, with support in Vermont and Washington state. The organization is directed by leading healthcare professionals to raise awareness, help clinicians and practices improve care and reduce disparities, and conduct research to identify best practices in pediatric care. For more information, call 866-787-0832 or visit www.nichq.org

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