Patient reading his food plan with sibling

Our researchers are conducting clinical trials to develop and test ways of preventing and treating pediatric overweight and to tailor interventions to a family's needs.

The prevalence of pediatric overweight has increased dramatically in recent decades and currently affects close to one in three children in the United States. Overweight also affects an increasing number of youth worldwide. Researchers at the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development are conducting studies to test prevention and treatment strategies. One of our goals is to identify ways we can tailor interventions to best help children and families.

Healthy eating and physical activity are essential to children's physical and mental health, setting the stage for better health for a lifetime. Helping children adopt and maintain healthy behaviors requires a multipronged approach, including understanding the influences of individuals, families, neighborhood environments, schools and the larger community and society. Our center's investigators are working to identify the critical influences on children's eating and physical activity in all these arenas.

We are conducting clinical trials to develop and test pediatric overweight prevention and treatment strategies in various settings. We are also exploring ways to improve the measurement of physical activity, eating, and weight-related physical and psychosocial consequences. You can read about one of these studies, the Familial Overweight: Comparing Use of Strategies (FOCUS) Project.

Our research is also linked to clinical programs. Children's Obesity Program, a group of Seattle Children's health professionals, has worked to increase awareness, provide education and resources, pursue innovative research and lead action to decrease childhood obesity since 2002.

As one of the Obesity Program's programs, Actively Changing Together! (ACT!, formerly known as Strong Kids Strong Teens) was developed as a community-based healthy lifestyle program for overweight and obese youth (8 to 14 years old) and their parents at local YMCAs. The program is currently being offered in fall and winter.

Our researchers are studying this program to learn more about supporting overweight/obese youth and their families to develop healthy lifestyle behaviors and working with them as a team to develop successful strategies toward healthy behavior change.