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Drexel University College of Medicine Program Receives Childhood Obesity Grant

April 9, 2012

John Liantonio, MD, and Christina Cook
John Liantonio, MD, a second-year family medicine resident, and Christina Cook, a certified fitness trainer, are doing a nutrition activity with kids from the Salvation Army Eliza Shirley Shelter House. The kids identify foods on the flash cards and label them according to one of the five food groups (grain, protein, vegetable, fruit or dairy).

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recently awarded Drexel University College of Medicine's Family Medicine Residency Program a one-year grant to help combat childhood obesity. It's one of just nine national grants awarded to programs across the country.

Drexel's Family Medicine Residency Program is partnering with the Salvation Army Eliza Shirley Shelter House – for women and families at 13th and Arch – to put on a health and wellness program once a month. Residents and faculty host the monthly sessions with the assistance of a nutritionist and a fitness trainer, incorporating physical activities, games and age-appropriate information to teach children and their mothers more about fitness and healthy eating.

"The children in our country are facing an obesity epidemic and Philadelphia is particularly hard hit, especially in our lower income families," says David Berkson, associate professor and director of the Family Medicine Residency program. "These monthly sessions will provide the training ground for a variety of school-age children to teach them the value of good nutrition and the benefit of exercising."

Department of Family, Community and Preventive Medicine faculty guiding the effort are: Annette Gadegbeku, assistant professor; Julie Yeh, assistant professor; and Berkson. The resident physicians are Stefanie Thomassin, Ami Khatri and Deanna Erb.