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U.S. Surgeon General Visits Miami Children's Hospital

Acting U.S. Surgeon General Rear Adm. Steven K. Galson visited Miami Children’s Hospital on Jan. 14 to meet with local health officials and members of the Hispanic media. The group of approximately 45 healthcare executives, physicians, community health advocates and reporters discussed issues related to the disproportionate number of overweight and obese Hispanic children.

The goal of the program, according to Galson, was to develop suggested guidelines for media, particularly outlets targeting Hispanics, that encourage their audiences to take a more active role in fighting obesity.

 “There’s a huge amount of progress we can make in helping media advise the public about important health initiatives they can take to reduce this epidemic,” he said. “I see a very positive future in making changes in this area.”

Members of the panel addressed a range of key factors that can help decrease obesity, including educating the public regarding the importance of physical activity and proper nutrition as well as reducing the amount of time children watch television, increasing the availability of healthy foods in schools and communities and providing safe environments where children may play.

Miami Children’s Hospital was selected to host the symposium by the White House due to the high percentage of Hispanic patients it treats and its stature as Florida’s only freestanding hospital dedicated entirely to children.

 “We need to support the community by providing resources and education that promote healthy living,” said Dr. Narendra Kini, president & CEO, Miami Children’s Hospital. “Miami Children’s Hospital is here to help in any way it can.”
Currently, 38 percent of Mexican-American children ages 2 to 19 are overweight or obese compared with 31.9 percent of all children those ages, according to a study published in
the Journal of the American Medical Association.  Further, childhood obesity is associated with increased risk of asthma, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep apnea and social stigmatization.

The program was part of the Surgeon General’s Healthy Youth for a Healthy Future initiative, which enlists community leaders to act as agents for the reduction and prevention of childhood obesity. The event at Miami Children’s Hospital was sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

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About Miami Children’s Hospital
Founded in 1950 by Variety Clubs International, Miami Children's Hospital® is South Florida’s only licensed specialty hospital exclusively for children, with more than 650 attending physicians and over 130 pediatric sub-specialists. The 289-bed hospital is renowned for excellence in all aspects of pediatric medicine with several specialty programs ranked among the best in the nation in 2008 by U.S.News & World Report. The hospital is also home to the largest pediatric teaching program in the southeastern United States and has been designated an American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) Magnet facility, the nursing profession’s most prestigious institutional honor.