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Children’s Hospital teams up to help fight childhood obesity

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HARTFORD -- Almost 1-out-of-7 American children ages 2 to 5 are obese, and the percentages only get worse as those children get older.

By the time they are 12 to 19, that ratio becomes 1-out-of-5 children.

"When I started in practice 25-years-ago, I had one 4-year-old patient who I still remember to this day who weighed over 100 pounds, and now that's not that unusual," said Dr. Nancy Trout, a physician at Connecticut Children's Medical Center, and the Director of CCMC's new Kohl's Start Childhood Off Right (SCOR) initiative.

SCOR is a two-year initiative, funded through a $350,000 grant from the department store chain Kohl's. The specific goal is to fight childhood obesity in low-income communities by focusing on children from the time they are born, up to 2-years-old.

"This initiative addressed an identified community need to decrease the prevalence of childhood obesity as well as prevent such later associated health problems as heart disease, diabetes, and asthma, said Dr. Paul Dworkin, CCMS's Executive Vice President for Community Child Health.

The initiative will feature a public awareness campaign, as well as education efforts for pediatric clinicians and obesity prevention training for home visitors.

Doctor Devika Umashanker of the Hartford Hospital Medical Group agrees with starting these efforts early.

"Breaking behaviors is very difficult, and that's why it's very important to try to do the intervention as early as possible."

Dr. Umashanker said it's good that parents will get help instilling health eating habits, but they will need to do more as their children move past the age of two.

"[Parents must] really encourage their children to have more physical activity a day, especially in your young and adolescent years."