Seattle Children's tackles childhood obesity with kid-friendly program



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Posted on January 30, 2010 at 1:11 PM

It only takes Rosa Rodriquez's boys about a minute to fix a whole grain banana sandwich. It's a far cry from what they used to eat, and what their mother grew up on.

"Soda, and we could pick out all the Doritos, all the chips," said Rosa Rodriguez.

Rosa worried as her first born son Alfredo became overweight, because of what has happened to two generations before him.

"Many members of our family have diabetes," she said.

So last year she enrolled Alfredo and herself in a weekly study program at Seattle Children's called Focus. Now they pay close attention to nutrition.

"It's not that we're giving up anything. It's that we're just including more of the healthier foods," she said.

Parents like her need more support, says Seattle Children's researcher and pediatrician Dr. Brian Saelens.

"If you think about this, if the kid's at the middle, you have the home environment, the neighborhood environment, you know state and federal policy that all impact perhaps a child's individual weight status," he said.

One change that may be helping already is the King County requirement that chain restaurants list calories.

A first of its kind study by Seattle Children's researchers found when menus clearly showed calories, parents shaved about 100 calories off their kid's meal.

"King County is only the second municipality in the country that has menu labeling. But it's being considered at the federal level," said Dr. Saelens.

Safe accessible outdoor play areas would make a difference too. In the meantime, Alfredo's mom says they'll do what they can at home.

"As parents we have the ability to make a difference now," she said.

Families can sign up for a second obesity study at Seattle Children's. Researchers say kids must be 7 to 11 years old, overweight, and have at least one overweight parent to join the new study.

Families who are interested in participating in the Compass Study can call 206-884-6312.  For more information about Compass, contact Gaby Ghafari at 206-884-6312 or


Seattle Children's Nutrition and Fitness

American Academy of Pediatrics