Healthy Weight Program Research Initiative on Childhood Obesity
Innovative research will advance our understanding of the root causes and effective models for obesity prevention and treatment, focused on early childhood intervention. We bring people together to stimulate research on obesity prevention and treatment across divisions, departments and institutions to inform and improve current obesity-related care and policies. Areas of research focus include clinical, community, and basic science in addition to using information technology. Most of the studies involve children and families from neighboring high-risk populations and communities where obesity rates are among the highest in the city. The Healthy Weight Program continues to make progress on existing projects and move forward on several exciting new studies.
Research Using Technology
- Modeling of Obesity-related Risk Factors Using CHOP Network Registry Data
PI: L. Charles Bailey, MD, PhD
Information from electronic health records will be used to assess current obesity-related care in the CHOP pediatric network and to develop models that can predict the development of obesity and related diseases.
- A Peer-based, Social-media Enabled Intervention to Promote Healthy Growth in Infancy
PI: Alexander G. Fiks, MD, MSCE
This study will develop and examine a novel peer-based, social media-enabled intervention delivered primarily through private Facebook groups, that promote behavior change through modeling to prevent obesity in infants from birth to 6 months of age.
The intervention will be developed in partnership with the target population of low-income mothers at high risk of having obese children and with pediatricians. The study will test intervention feasibility, acceptability and impact on outcomes, including behaviors associated with healthy weight.
- CHOP-wide Obesity Registry
Faculty Lead: Christopher B. Forrest, MD, PhD
Using electronic health records, we are extracting obesity-related data from patient records in the Healthy Weight Clinic and CHOP's network of primary care practices. We will also ultimately obtain data from specialty care, emergency medicine and inpatient locations.
The registry will be a longitudinal record of anthropometric and other data including patient-reported information (e.g., physical activity, positive affect, body image, etc.) on patients seen at CHOP and will advance our understanding of operational efficiencies as well as clinical outcomes.
- Infant Growth and Microbiome Study (I-gram)
PI: Babette Zemel, PhD
Pre-pregnancy maternal weight, mode of delivery, exposure to antibiotics, and infant feeding practices are early risk factors associated with childhood obesity, but mechanisms remain unclear. The human gut microbiome, a complex collection of trillions of bacteria in the body involved in harnessing energy from food, is associated with obesity in adults and in animal models. It may provide a causal link between these early risk factors and excess infant weight gain.
This prospective observational cohort study will test associations between gut microbiota, and early weight gain in the first year of life among infants born to normal-weight vs. obese African American mainly low-income mothers, where obesity risk is amongst the highest. Few mechanistic studies of the development of obesity early in life have targeted this high-risk group.
- Eating Pace Retraining in Early Childhood Obesity Prevention
PI: Robert I. Berkowitz, MD
Investigators will develop a novel, family-based behavioral intervention (Re-Pace) to retrain 4- to 7-year-old rapid eaters at high risk for becoming obese to reduce their rate of eating and to develop self-awareness of satiety. Their results will be compared to a usual care group.
- Healthy Hearts, Healthy Lives Study
PI: Victoria L. Vetter, MD, MPH
This community-based study focuses on cardiovascular disease and obesity in children and youth. The study aims to 1) provide a community based intervention to increase awareness of the heart health impact of obesity and hypertension to identify and prevent associated sudden cardiac death in adulthood; and 2) identify children at risk for cardiac conditions associated with sudden cardiac death in childhood. The study will target 1000 children, aged 5-19 years in the Philadelphia region in selected high schools and community recreation centers.
- Improving Home Food Preparation Practices among Families with Young Children: A Peer Mentoring Intervention
PI: Senbagam Virudachalam, MD, MSPH
This study aims to test the effectiveness of a community-based peer mentoring intervention to improve home food preparation practices among families with children from birth to 3 years in West Philadelphia.
- Goal Setting around Positive Lifestyle Changes in a Community-Based Program: Pilot Study
Co-PI: Issy C. Esangbedo, MD, MPH
Co-PI: Gillian Bazelon, PhD
In partnership with a community based organization, Investing in Ourselves, this project will investigate strategies on goal setting related to diet and physical activity that have the highest rates of success for children and their families.
- Peripartum Obesity and Postpartum Weight Retention Study
Co-PI: Charmaine Smith Wright, MD
Co-PI: Marjie Mogul, PhD
Through an academic-community partnership with a community based organization, Maternity Care Coalition, the study aims to develop, evaluate, and implement an intervention to reduce postpartum weight retention and increase breastfeeding duration among low income women.
Basic Science Research
- Identification of Compounds Effective in Preventing and/or Treating Obesity Using a Novel Mouse Model of Childhood Hypothalamic Obesity
PI: Bassil M. Kublaoui, MD, PhD
The purpose of the trial is to use a mouse model of hypothalamic obesity to identify drugs effective in its prevention and treatment.