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Unique Center will Empower Families Struggling With Childhood Obesity

-New Austin-based Center combines multidisciplinary clinical treatment with community engagement, advocacy and research to serve Texas families-

AUSTIN, TX – Without intervention, today’s overweight and obese children and teens will likely die younger and live less fulfilling lives than their parents. The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation and Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas, a member of the Seton Family of Hospitals, are working to prevent this from happening. Today Dell Children’s Medical Center announced it has received a grant of $997,663 from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to establish the Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity.

The Center will provide a much needed and previously non-existent resource to the region, combing not only clinical treatment, but also community engagement and advocacy to fight childhood obesity both at the individual and community level. The Center will serve children and their families from Central Texas and beyond who are seeking to make healthy lifestyle changes and receive treatment for their childhood obesity. Representing a unique collaboration between Dell Children’s Medical Center, UT Southwestern – Austin Programs, UT Austin, and the Texas Child Study Center, the Center builds and expands upon other obesity centers in the state and nation and will seek immediately to impact the childhood obesity epidemic.

“Obesity is a problem of monumental proportions, and Central Texas sits in the middle of a state that has been especially affected. We are so grateful for this support from the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation to establish this much needed center,” said Stephen Pont, MD, MPH, FAAP. Dr. Pont will serve as Medical Director for the Center. Fellow obesity expert and pediatric generalist Kimberly Avila Edwards, MD, FAAP and Jane Gray, PhD, a child psychologist specializing in cognitive behavior therapy and the Director of Psychology Training at the Texas Child Study Center will complete the founding faculty team for the Center.

“As a parent, the scariest thing in the world is to learn your child is in danger. Yet children in Central Texas are shortening their life expectancy every day in a combat zone of fast foods, sugar, limited physical activity, and the lure of electronic games and TV,” said Susan Dell, chairman and co-founder of the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation. “We believe the establishment of this Center will not only provide the resources for medical practitioners, but more importantly provide Central Texas families with critical information and support that will help change the outcomes for many children and lead their families toward healthier habits and lives.”

“We are very grateful to the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation for their most generous support of this new program. Philanthropy is essential in order to get new initiatives such as this to an optimal operational level. Future funding will be critical to expand and increase the level of care as the volume of patients continues to grow. We appreciate this grant as it sets a high standard for the success of this much-needed program,” said Missy Wood, Executive Director, Children’s Medical Center Foundation of Central Texas.

Beyond multidisciplinary medical and psychological care, the Center will serve as a regional childhood obesity resource for children, their families, schools and the broader Central Texas community. Through advocacy the Center will provide the medical perspective for public policy initiatives and will work with community groups to build capacity and change the local landscape to enable communities to reverse the obesity epidemic. Finally, the Center will engage in novel research to advance knowledge, document success, and expand services. Drs. Pont, Avila Edwards and Gray have worked together for the past year developing and implementing the Healthy Living Happy Living / Vida Sana Vida Feliz obesity intervention, which represents the first operational phase of the Center. The multidisciplinary clinic will open in April 2010 in the Dell Children’s Specialty Care Center. Through multidisciplinary clinical services, education, advocacy and research, the Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity will empower families to live healthy happy lives.

About the Seton Family of Hospitals
The Seton Family of Hospitals (www.seton.net) is the leading provider of healthcare services in Central Texas with 24 clinical locations throughout the region. The Seton Family of Hospitals includes the only Level I Trauma Centers for adult and pediatrics in the Austin area; the only Heart Transplant Center in Central Texas; and the first two Designated Stroke Centers in Texas to receive a Gold Seal of Approval by The Joint Commission. The Seton Family of Hospitals has been awarded four Magnet designations, the highest award for nursing excellence given by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC). The ANCC is an independent subsidiary of the American Nurses Association, the nation’s largest organization of nursing professionals. In FY2008, Seton, a member of Ascension Health, the largest not-for-profit health network in the nation, provided more than $419 million in charity and community benefit to Central Texans.

Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas
Dell Children’s Medical Center (www.dellchildrens.net), a member of the Seton Family of Hospitals, is the only dedicated, freestanding pediatric facility in the region. Serving a 46-county area and beyond, Dell Children’s is the premier health care provider for babies, children and adolescents and provides a wide range of healthcare services. Children are cared for with a family-centered approach that keeps patients close to loved ones at all times. Our dedicated, multidisciplinary team of pediatric specialists and nurses are all committed to a single purpose: making a sick or injured child feel like a kid again.

Michael & Susan Dell Foundation
The Michael & Susan Dell Foundation (www.msdf.org) is dedicated to improving the lives of children living in urban poverty around the world. With offices in Austin, TX, Cape Town, South Africa and New Delhi, India, the Dell family foundation funds programs that foster high-quality public education and childhood health, and improve the economic stability of families living in poverty. The foundation has committed more than $650 million to global children’s issues and community initiatives to date.

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