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URMC researchers are part of a large, family-based childhood obesity study

Jun 22, 2018

Credit University of Rochester Medical Center

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center are set to join one of the largest-ever studies on childhood obesity. URMC will receive a $3.1 million contract to enroll an expected 432 families in the region.

The study will focus on weight-loss programs that involve both children and their parents, the university said. “What we’ve seen is when you work with parents and children as partners, you get better outcomes,” said Dr. Stephen Cook, who is leading the study in Rochester. “If you have a child and a parent together, the parent can lose 15 to 20 pounds.”

Cook stressed the importance of word choice in the way doctors interact with patients. “We call it ‘patient-centered language,’” Cook said. “You don’t say ‘you’re the obese patient,’ you say ‘you’re a patient with obesity, and we’re worried about your health.”

Credit URMC

Positive language from doctors helps them form better relationships with patients, Cook said. The study is aimed at evaluating the health impacts of those relationships, as well as helping parents and children make lasting changes in their eating and activity habits.

URMC is one of three other institutions receiving a combined sum of $13.9 million to work on the study from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, whose executive director Joe Selby said the project will “answer important questions about childhood obesity.”

The other three research centers are in Missouri, Louisiana, and Illinois. That’s important, Cook said, because it allows the study to draw on a diverse set of participants.

Enrollment locally is expected to begin in fall 2019.