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Pediatrics / Research / Nutrition & Metabolism

Nutrition & Metabolism

Nutrition and Metabolism Our long-standing history of clinical studies related to Nutrition and Metabolism date back to the pioneering research of Dr. Gilbert Forbes in human body composition in the 1960s. Present research efforts in this area are directed at the spectrum of nutrition and metabolism disorders currently posing the greatest threats to public health: Obesity, Eating Disorders and Breast Feeding.

  1. With funding from the NIH and local foundations, research in the Division of General Pediatrics is focused on improving the skills of local pediatricians to prevent obesity in children and adolescents in clinical practice setting. Research focuses on childhood and adolescent obesity from the perspective of epidemiologic research on cardiovascular risk factors to clinical studies on approaches to prevention and intervention. The first area of research is focused on Metabolic Syndrome: a cluster of metabolic and cardiovascular complications of obesity involving excess abdominal fat, elevated cholesterols, high blood pressure, insulin resistance and high blood glucose. The other area of focus is Community and Health Services Research: involving identification, screening, prevention, and management of childhood obesity.
  2. Eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, have been a clinical research focus in the Division of Adolescent Medicine for more than 40 years. Using sophisticated fMRI and neurocognitive methods, current research is focused on changes in brain function and behavior associated with severe weight loss, and improvements in these measures with improved nutrition and treatment.
  3. The Study of Human Milk and Lactation is central to understanding normal infant nutrition and the prevention of disease including the roots of obesity and eating disorders. Work is currently focused on breastfeeding initiation and duration and the obstacles to successful breastfeeding. Critical to this success is the education of physicians and health professionals about the value, the process and the management of lactation.

Other work based on clinical toxicology issues and prevention education is funded by HHS grants through Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and carried out at the Poison Center.