July 30, 2014 — The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and Aramark, a $14 billion global provider of award winning services in food, facilities management and uniforms, launched a new partnership today called “Home Plate," a thought leadership research study to enhance the health and well-being of families. The study is anchored by a $750,000, three-year grant from The Aramark Charitable Fund to the Healthy Weight Program at CHOP.
Home Plate will teach parents the necessary skills to cook healthy meals at home and is part of CHOP’s Healthy Weight Program. The initiative is designed to help combat childhood obesity in low-income families with preschoolers through a community-engaged, peer mentor led model to improve family health through good nutrition. The research initiative will be led by Senbagam Virudachalam, MD, MSHP, a general pediatrician and health services researcher at CHOP’s PolicyLab, and her colleagues.
Study designed to help combat childhood obesity
“We are thrilled to partner with Aramark to launch Home Plate, an innovative research study designed to help combat childhood obesity,” said Steven M. Altschuler, MD, chief executive officer of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s commitment to children’s health is exemplified by our Healthy Weight Program which directly addresses one of the major public health challenges for children in the United States.
"Offering community-based programs such as Home Plate helps us to share our expertise at a grassroots level, right in the neighborhoods we serve, with the ultimate goal of developing a national model for other communities to emulate,” Altschuler added.
Aramark President and CEO Eric J. Foss said, "“Working with an esteemed organization as The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia on the fight against childhood obesity aligns the interests of our respective organizations to help children and families make the right nutritional choices and lead healthier lives.
“This is another example of how we at Aramark are committed to enriching and nourishing lives in our business and in the communities we serve.”
Weekly cooking classes to teach parents how to provide more nutritious meals
Home Plate consists of both action-oriented education and formal research about the effects of teaching parents how to provide better and more nutritious meals for their families. The three-year research study will involve a total of 60 parents and 30 mentors over the course of the 24 month study consisting of weekly cooking classes over six weeks, each with 20 parents and 10 mentors during each cohort session. The final year of the research study will analyze Home Plate’s efficacy and refine the intervention. If the study proves successful, it will lay the foundation for a low-cost, sustainable model that can be replicated in community based organizations across the country.
“About one-third of children in the United States are overweight or obese by the time they reach school age,” said Trish DeRusso, MD, vice president, Medical Staff Affairs at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “While improving access to fresh fruits and vegetables is key, people require skills to turn that access into healthier diets for themselves and their families. Home Plate can help bridge that gap.”
The study will begin in Spring 2015; cooking classes will take place at The Enterprise Center’s Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises in West Philadelphia. Parents will be invited to participate through various community based non profit organizations, including CHOP Early Head Start, housed within CHOP’s Karabots Advanced Pediatric Care Center, as well as The Enterprise Center.
“Children under the age of 5 eat 70 percent of their meals at home, yet the foods they eat are often processed or brought in from other food establishments,” said Senbagam Virudachalam, MD, MSHP, principal investigator of the study. “By ensuring that parents of young children have the skills and confidence to regularly prepare healthy food at home, we hope to positively impact children’s food-related habits and routines from the earliest ages.”
About The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia was founded in 1855 as the nation’s first pediatric hospital. Through its long-standing commitment to providing exceptional patient care, training new generations of pediatric healthcare professionals and pioneering major research initiatives, Children’s Hospital has fostered many discoveries that have benefited children worldwide. Its pediatric research program receives the highest amount of National Institutes of Health funding among all U.S. children’s hospitals. In addition, its unique family-centered care and public service programs have brought the 535-bed hospital recognition as a leading advocate for children and adolescents. For more information, visit www.chop.edu.
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