- The Washington Times - Monday, October 11, 2004

Children’s National Medical Center has three outreach programs to help overweight children in specific inner-city population groups. All operate without charge to participants and their families.

Fitnut, run by a volunteer organization within the hospital, is for black girls ages 8 and older and takes place in a Boys and Girls Club in the District’s Southeast. It is staffed by students from George Washington University.

A second, called Better Choices, for black boys and girls 12 years and older, is held on the site of the medical facility under the supervision of a doctor and a nutritionist.

A third, called Cool Kids, is targeted for Hispanic youths between ages 7 and 18 years and is held in the hospital’s satellite clinic in Adams Morgan. Cool Kids, which formally opened in January, was conceived as far back as 2000. It is a family-based intervention program conducted in Spanish. Staffers include a psychologist and a physical trainer.

“We had found a 38 percent obesity in this particular [Hispanic] community,” says Dr. Nazrat Mirza, a pediatrician at Children’s. “Initially the Hispanic population didn’t recognize it as a program, so we went slowly, wanting members of the community to be stakeholders.

“Because the three projects have specific time frames, enrollment is continuous with a new session starting every three months. A physical examination is required to see if a child can undergo physical activity,” she says.

—Ann Geracimos

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