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The Catalyst

Obesity initiative works toward family centered clinical programs

By Lucie M. Kramer
Boeing Center for Children's Wellness

The goal of the MUSC Boeing Center for Children’s Wellness, an obesity initiative through the Department of Pediatrics, is to prevent and treat childhood obesity with family centered clinical programs paired with policy and environmental changes.

The center is involved with more than 100 Tri-county area schools and looking to expand to other parts of the state.

A recent MUSC study found that 43 percent of children in the Charleston County School District are overweight or obese. These children are representative of the patient population at MUSC. Last spring, the Boeing Center for Children’s Wellness, in partnership with MUSC Employee Wellness and Sodexo, launched a Children’s Hospital Wellness Initiative that targets both employee and patient wellness. 

MUSC Boeing Center for Children's Wellness

Promoting healthy eating and lifestyle habits for children in all settings is essential. The hospital-based wellness initiative involved taking the successful school-based model and applying it to MUSC employees and patients.

After extensive work in the schools, studies revealed that the healthiest schools were the ones with a robust wellness program, which is why programs were developed for employees only.Similarly, research suggests that health care providers who engage in healthy behaviors are more likely to counsel their patients on these issues.

In the spirit of being a wellness-focused children’s hospital, the center plans to include all patients in any wellness efforts.

The first patient-based initiative focused on nutrition. Last spring, Sodexo dietitians, chefs, and dietetic interns conducted a Children’s Taste panel at MUSC to determine the best child friendly and healthy food options. A variety of meats and vegetables were put to the test, and the top selections were used to guide the planning of the MUSC Healthy Action Meals program.

Healthy Action Meals are nutritious meals that patients can order both in their rooms and in the cafeteria. Sodexo and Boeing Center for Children’s Wellness dietitians planned five Healthy Action Meals to ensure that nutrition requirements were met, but fat and excess sugar were limited.

The Healthy Action Meals program, launched Dec. 5, includes a points system so that children can earn prizes. Each time one of the five Healthy Action Meals is selected, the child will receive two points on the printed receipt that comes with the delivered inpatient meal. Patients, or their parents and visitors, may then cash in the points at the MUSC Gift Shop (located in Ashley River Tower) for prizes provided by the Boeing Center for Children’s Wellness.

For information on the Boeing Center for Children’s Wellness, visit

May 22, 2013

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