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Helen DeVos Children's Hospital News
Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital Experts Members of National Childhood Obesity Work Group


Dr. Tom Peterson
Tom Peterson, MD
Trillium Hibbeln
Trillium Hibbeln
Joe Eisenmann
Joe Eisenmann, PhD
Tom Peterson, MD, Trillium Hibbeln and Joe Eisenmann, PhD, Appointed to National Task Force

Helen DeVos Children's Hospital was selected by the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions (NACHRI) as one of 16 children's hospitals to participate in a task force to identify best practices of hospital-based clinical pediatric weight management programs.

The task force, known as the NACHRI FOCUS Group on Obesity, is supported through an exploratory grant provided by the Mattel Children's Foundation. The taskforce will examine and refine successful components of the obesity clinics and weight management programs at their collective hospitals.

"Childhood obesity is the number one children's health issue facing our society," said Tom Peterson, MD, medical director of quality at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital. "It is an honor to be selected to evaluate other successful programs and work to create a national model for successful pediatric weight management. Our goal is to contribute to this work group and eventually apply successful elements of nationally recognized programs to our community."

The appointment to the task force comes on the heels of Kids In Action, a pilot program between Helen DeVos Children's Hospital, Michigan Medical, P.C.Kent/Michigan State University Extension and the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids. The pilot program included 24 children and their families. Long-term results are pending but initial indications show eating habits changed, families established active lifestyles and participants embraced change.

"Obese children suffer from medical complications that were once only common in adults, such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, sleep apnea and high cholesterol," added Peterson. "For the first time, a younger generation may be outlived by its parents. An overweight child will likely die 14 years younger than a healthy weight child. We have an opportunity to change this startling statistic."

The task force met for the first time earlier this month at Arkansas Children's Hospital and will continue its work through 2009. The final findings will be published in January 2010. Dr. Peterson is joined by Trillium Hibbeln, director of program development at Helen DeVos Children's Hospital as well as researcher, Joe Eisenmann, PhD, an assistant professor of kinesiology and a faculty member in the department of pediatrics and human development at Michigan State University. He will be collaborating with Helen DeVos Children's Hospital on pediatric obesity research.

Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is West Michigan's largest children's hospital, serving children and families throughout a 37-county region. A teaching hospital, it includes more than 150 pediatric specialty physicians uniquely skilled in providing medical and surgical care to children in more than 40 pediatric specialties. The hospital cares for more than 7,600 inpatients and 190,000 outpatients annually. Helen DeVos Children's Hospital is committed to caring for children and families with compassion, excellence and innovation.