Kreipe Named President of International Adolescent Medicine Society

March 24, 2008

Richard Kreipe, M.D.

This week, Richard Kreipe, M.D., professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong, delivers a presidential address to mark the start of his year-long term serving the international Society for Adolescent Medicine. The address will be given at the society’s annual meeting, held Wednesday to Saturday, March 26 to 29, in Greensboro, South Carolina.

The society, which has its own scholarly journal and 1500 members from North and South America, Australia and Europe, is a multi-disciplinary organization of health professionals who are committed to advancing the well-being of adolescents through education, research, clinical services and advocacy activities. This year’s meeting focuses on obesity, which frequently escalates in the teen years, in part due to peer pressure and to young people making unhealthy choices related to nutrition (too much) and physical activity (not enough) as they become increasingly independent from their families.

“Our charge is critical – adult health habits, both good and bad, tend to be formed during adolescence. Yet for the first time in history, we have a generation of teens who are on their way to being less healthy than their parents,” Kreipe said. “If we can empower adolescents to get the knowledge, skills and attitudes that they need to achieve and maintain good health, then they are more likely to continue these healthy habits into adulthood.”

Kreipe, who first joined the society in 1979, served on the board of directors between 1993 and 1995. His primary research interest is the prevention and treatment of eating disorders, which has led to his current post as medical director of the Western NY Comprehensive Care Center for Eating Disorders.

“Once you understand the basic assumptions that adolescents with eating disorders have about body image, weight control and related topics, their behaviors make sense,” Kreipe said. “And in a way, that’s a microcosm of adolescent medicine in general; only by listening to teens, learning what they think and understanding what motivates them can we earn their trust. And then, we can partner with them to forge healthy habits.”

Recent news – that the adolescent brain matures well into adulthood, and that environmental influences like stress affect how the brain and the mind develops, shaping overall health – is sparking new interest in the discipline. In the wake of this, Kreipe hopes to encourage greater collaboration amongst colleagues in various adolescent health fields; only through these interdisciplinary alliances can practitioners better understand the challenges that today’s teens face.

“It’s an exciting time for adolescent medicine,” Kreipe said. “And since the University of Rochester is the home of the biopsychosocial model – which emphasizes how biological, psychological and social issues interact to affect overall health – we need to study how these various facets relate with each other. Teen health issues – obesity, eating disorders, smoking, substance abuse, violence and sexual behaviors – are rooted in much more than just neurotransmitters, genes or even the brain. Adolescents are much more complex than the sum of their parts.”

Kreipe and his University of Rochester colleagues will also present new findings at the meeting’s poster and platform presentations. Highlights from this research include:

• Results from interviews with patients now-recovered from anorexia, analyzing factors to which these patients attribute their improvement.
• A review of recently published research which tests the varying success of technology-based interventions aimed at boosting physical activity in youth (e.g., dynamic video games such as Dance Dance Revolution TM.)

Of the 37 past presidents of Society for Adolescent Medicine, Kreipe is the sixth president who trained at the University of Rochester. For more information on the upcoming conference visit http://www.adolescenthealth.org. For more information about adolescent medicine at the University of Rochester, visit http://www.urmc.rochester.edu/pediatrics/divisions/adolescent_medicine/index.cfm.

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