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Research on Childhood Obesity at CWRU

Posted on November 16, 2010

Childhood obesity is a widespread problem affecting children’s health. Obesity during childhood is associated with a range of health problems including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, joint problems and sleep apnea. In addition, obese children are at greater risk for becoming obese adults, which affects their long-term health.

In Cleveland, approximately 40 percent of children are overweight or obese, a rate significantly higher than the national average, estimated at around 30 percent. These rates have been rising in recent years, despite increasing public awareness of the problem. This trend is due, at least in part, to the lack of obesity treatment interventions that are effective over the long term. While clinical interventions may be effective in treating obesity over the short term, their impact is rarely sustainable once the intervention is complete.

Schubert Center Faculty Associate Dr. Leona Cuttler is on the front lines of the fight against childhood obesity. Cleveland has been chosen as one of four sites in the NIH-sponsored Childhood Obesity Prevention and Treatment Research initiative. Dr. Cuttler, together with her colleagues at CWRU and University Hospitals, will be collaborating with other local partners to recruit and follow more than 400 families to assess the effectiveness of various treatment interventions for obesity. The three treatment interventions include:

  • “Usual Care,” a program including education on healthy lifestyles that will be used as a control group,
  • “HealthyChange,” a program of additional interventions targeting variables associated with obesity such as TV watching and sleep habits,
  • “SystemChange,” an even more intensive intervention designed to reconfigure the microdynamics of the family environment by mapping the families’ daily behaviors and targeting unhealthy patterns.

Each family will receive one of these three intervention programs. The researchers will follow the families throughout the six month intervention and a six month follow-up period in order to determine the relative effectiveness of the different interventions. The most success intervention could provide a new model for treating childhood obesity nationally.

Read more about this research in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Read a policy brief on childhood obesity in Ohio from the Center for Child Health and Policy at University Hospitals of Cleveland.

Page last modified: March 21, 2014