WVU Medicine Children’s receives grant to improve lifestyles

Tuesday, June 9, 2020

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Medicine Children’s has been awarded a $366,000 grant by the National Institutes of Health’s Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program to implement a lifestyle improvement intervention study for children with a high body mass index.

The iAmHealthy study is an iPad-based group intervention with the goal of increasing physical activity and awareness of healthy food choices.

“This program is an example of how WVU Medicine Children’s works with community partners to improve the health of children in the state. WVU Medicine Children’s initiated this study in February 2020; however, we halted recruitment due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emergency measures. The study will restart on June 8 and will be a completely virtual study, including consent via telemedicine and height and weight obtained at home by family with study-supplied equipment,” Lee Pyles, M.D., WVU Medicine Children’s pediatric cardiologist and primary investigator of the study, said.

The iAmHealthy study is a part of the Echo Idea State Pediatric Clinical Trial Network (ISPCTN) that includes WVU Medicine Children’s. The goal of the ISPCTN is to provide medically underserved or rural populations with access to state-of-the-art clinical trials, apply findings from relevant pediatric cohort studies to children in Institutional Development Award (IDeA) state locations, and build pediatric research capacity at a national level.

According to Dr. Pyles, the United States Preventive Services Task Force determined that the involvement of a primary caregiver and provision of at least 26 contact hours of health counseling are the two factors that determine whether a child can improve his or her body mass index.

“It takes a team effort between the child, caregiver, and medical team to help these children get to a healthy, sustainable weight,” Brian Policano, M.D., WVU Medicine Children’s pediatrician and study co-investigator, said. “We hope this study will help us learn more about what clinical interventions are most effective in improving habits and lifestyles in children.”

To be included in the study, children must be between the ages of 6-to-11 years old and have a body mass index in the 85th percentile. Nearly half of the children in the state have a body mass index in this range.

Up to 28 children will be enrolled in the study, with half receiving standard care from Pediatric Associates of Bridgeport and a healthy lifestyle newsletter each month from American Academy of Pediatrics. The remaining participants will also receive the newsletter and will work in a group environment with a parent, other families, a dietitian, and a psychologist to improve their diet and lifestyle in addition to receiving standard pediatric care.

For more information on WVU Medicine Children’s, visit WVUMedicine.org/Childrens.

For more information: Heather Bonecutter, Communications Specialist, 304-285-7256