Committee meets to combat childhood obesity
JEFFERSON CITY - A group of medical professionals and other experts met with the Children's Services Commission to find solutions to fight childhood obesity met Monday.
The forum met as members of the commission's subcommittee presented options to reduce childhood obesity across the state.
The committee has collected information from forums around the state in St. Louis, Kansas City, Springfield and Columbia.
The subcommittee found the best way to fight childhood obesity is through prevention and treatment. Members want to teach a healthy lifestyle not only to children and teachers in schools, but also to parents to keep healthy food choices at home to prevent children from developing childhood obesity. They want to provide treatment through Medicaid and provide reimbursement to Medicaid to treat obese children.
Subcommittee co-chair and pediatrician Sarah Hamppl recommends parents talk with their child's physician to determine if their child is at risk of obesity.
"Parents should really talk to their primary care provider of their child about their child's weight," Hamppl said. "They should be inquisitive and ask if their child's weight is healthy, and ask to get some steps to be able to help their child maintain a healthy weight or achieve a healthy weight."
Subcommittee co-chair Denise Wilfley said treating childhood obesity can be very costly, which is why the subcommittee wants to work on reimbursement for Medicaid.
"Childhood obesity occurs in one out of every three children," Wilfley said. "The cost is very high because the heavier the child, the more comorbidities these children have. They have asthma, Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and all these health conditions add up in terms of added costs to the health care system."
The next step for the subcommittee is working with legislators to develop a form of reimbursement for Medicaid treatments of childhood obesity. Members also discussed building centers for excellence where parents and children can go to learn about prevention and get treatments for children struggling with obesity.