Seton Health gets grant to fight childhood obesity

Seton Health of Troy will receive $150,000 from the state to help primary care providers reduce chil

Seton Health of Troy will receive $150,000 from the state to help primary care providers reduce child and adolescent obesity in Schenectady, Schoharie, Rensselaer and five other counties.

State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah on Monday announced the awards to nine organizations. He said the organizations will receive initial awards of $150,000 for 18 months and may qualify for additional awards to a maximum of $500,000 over five years.

Seton will use the grants to train primary care providers, such as physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants, in the provision of body mass index testing to children and adolescents.

The state wants practitioners to target low-income populations, certain racial and ethnic minorities and persons with developmental disabilities.

“One of the key things we want is to increase the number of children who get the BMI test. That will give a baseline and they can build on that,” said Peter Constantakes, spokesman for the state Department of Health.

He said the state’s most current BMI data on adolescents is from 2007, and that data showed that 39 percent had taken the test. “This will help point out where there are problems and tell us where to divert resources. If we see that kids are having weight problems in a certain geographical area, we can reach out there,” he said.

Constantakes said the state awarded the grants based on competitive requests for proposals.

He said Seton’s proposal most closely matched the state’s objectives.

Shah said the state is launching the initiative because “overweight and obese children are at great risk for a lifetime of serious health problems such as diabetes, coronary disease or hypertension, and earlier intervention can result in better quality of life and reduced health care problems.”

Approximately 32 percent of students in public schools outside of New York City are overweight or obese and 40 percent of New York City public school students aged 6 through 12 are overweight or obese, according to a news release from the state Department of Health.

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