An Emerging Childhood Obesity Workgroup: Opportunity for Partnerships!

Obesity is one of our Community Advisory Board’s identified regional health priorities due to the high prevalence in the Great Plains, and disparities in prevalence and outcomes for under-represented minority populations and people living in rural areas.  Addressing obesity early, either through prevention or treatment of childhood obesity, has the potential to prevent a lot of chronic health conditions and expenses later in life. So, over the past year we formed a workgroup with Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, members of the Great Plains IDeA Clinical and Translational Research Network, and the Child Health Research institute to talk about childhood obesity. We started with a mindset to understand how pediatricians and healthcare administrators, when partnered with researchers, could have a significant impact on preventing and reducing childhood obesity.

After a few meetings the group came up with the following short-, mid-, and long-term goals to:

  • Develop a sustainable workgroup of healthcare administrators, providers, scientists, and facilitators focused on childhood obesity prevention and treatment across organizations to advance science while concurrently improving childhood obesity-related practice in Nebraska.
  • Test methods to facilitate the implementation of childhood obesity research that aligns with current practice needs.
  • Conduct pragmatic translational research from basic through population health science.
  • Contribute to the successful competition for a national nutritional obesity research center in Nebraska.
  • Demonstrate sustained improvements in practice that reduce childhood obesity.

As we move forward with this emerging workgroup, we are focused on being action and project-oriented and providing a place and opportunities for clinical and community partners to work with research partners to develop project ideas that can advance science and improve practice.

We are excited to get this workgroup going and if you are a practitioner or community partner, the benefits of joining the workgroup include: (1) engaging in research that can have direct impact on improving practice, (2) getting support to apply state of the science on obesity prevention and management in your setting, (3) participate in shared projects to build your research capacity, and (4) getting a chance to talk about solutions with researchers and practitioners with similar interests.

Key partners in the workgroup include:

  • Child Health Research Institute (Lifespan Disease and Population Health Workgroups)
  • City Match
  • University of Nebraska at Kearney (Exercise Science/ PA and Wellness Lab)
  • University of Nebraska Lincoln (NPOD; Psychology)
  • UNMC (Health Promotion; Epidemiology; Pediatrics)
  • Children’s Hospital and Medical Center (Pediatrics; Center for the Child and Community)

We are really excited to see what this workgroup brings; and it has even developed some initial metrics of success that include goals to increase the number of inter-disciplinary/inter-professional collaborations, participatory research project, communities involved (especially those that experience disparities), practical scientific advances, and improvements clinical and community practice, policies, and guidelines.

If this is something you’d like to get involved in just contact Paul Estabrooks at to get on the list!

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