According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents over the last 30 years. In 2012, alone more than one-third of all children and adolescents were considered overweight or obese.
As health professionals, we are aware that patterns of daily behavior begin in early childhood and affect short and long-term health. Healthy nutritional choices and daily exercise are particularly important for long-term well-being and obesity prevention.
In Baltimore City, there is a federally funded program called B’More Fit through the program B’More Healthy Babies, which helps low-income postpartum moms lose weight by participating in a weight loss program and weekly exercise classes. The program includes daycare services for the parents while they are taking classes. At the forefront of this massive collaborative effort is Carolyn Bramante, a med/peds resident.
Through a citywide collaborative effort of the pediatric residency programs throughout Baltimore City, the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Baltimore City Health Department, the children of parents involved with the program receive their own nutritional education and exercise program.
The pediatric residents have stepped in to fill the initial programming gap by teaching age-appropriate curriculum on healthy eating and exercise to children while they are in the custodial childcare. The curriculum is taught by combined internal medicine and pediatrics, or med-peds, and pediatric residents, and it covers similar topics to those in the mothers’ classes. Each session ends with a content summary for the mothers so that they can reinforce the topics at home. These classes currently take place at the Druid Hill YMCA every Monday evening.
Along with the classes, children also get to participate in fun activities, such as tasting different types of vegetables and fruits, reading age-appropriate books related to healthy eating, and of course lots of playtime at the end to allow them to exercise.
It is wonderful to know that even with extremely busy schedules, these residents have taken the time outside of their medical responsibilities to make a difference and help fight an epidemic that needs all of our involvement.