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The Nation's Challenge

Since 1980, obesity in the United States has doubled among children ages 2 to 4, and nearly tripled among children and adolescents ages 6 to 19. To fight this trend, our Obesity Institute is developing prevention and treatment strategies to reduce obesity. The Institute's Improving Diet, Energy and Activity for Life (IDEAL) Clinic, Weight-Loss Surgery Program, and community-level Prevention and Wellness programs empower children, families, and communities to achieve healthier lifestyles for a lifetime.

Battling Childhood Obesity with Bariatric Surgery

While obesity is a growing problem for the U.S., approximately 18 percent of school-aged children are obese in Washington, DC. Obese youth are more likely to become obese adults and are at risk for long-term health effects. Bariatric surgery is an option for patients who are significantly overweight and have a medical issue related to their weight that cannot be treated with lifestyle and dietary changes alone. It is still a relatively new procedure in adolescents, and it is important that the surgery is performed by a pediatric team who understands the special needs of young patients. Learn more about how Children's National's team fights childhood obesity.

Advocates for a Healthier Future

Community partnerships and advocacy are an important part of the solution to obesity. Our specialists support local and national policies for improved awareness of and funding for obesity prevention and treatment. We are partners in the Washington, DC, community where the percentage of overweight and obese adolescents has improved, but still remains higher than the national average. Our Obesity Institute leadership has testified before the Council of the District of Columbia on the benefits of a community-based strategy to complement our clinical care. In 2010, the Institute played a key role in the passage of the DC Healthy Schools Act which improves access to healthy foods, wellness programs, and activities for children in the nation’s capital.

Solutions for the Future

Institute experts lead research to discover alternatives to surgery for morbidly obese adolescents, to understand the influence of genetics, and identify lifestyle factors that enable patients to manage their weight and reduce other existing medical conditions.

Evan P. Nadler, MD, is a recognized expert in weight-loss surgery. He is one of the few surgeons nationwide who performs bariatric surgery for adolescents. He published a study on the first series of adolescents who underwent laparoscopic sleeve gastrectomy. His initial research showed improvement to health and weight-loss following laparoscopic adjustable gastric banding (LAP-BAND®) surgery and informed national practice.

Michelle Mietus-Snyder, MD, Co-Director of the Obesity Institute, is a preventative cardiologist and clinical research scientist. Her research focuses on the identification of lifestyle strategics to improve metabolic balance and heart health for all children regardless of economic circumstances.