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Healthy Eating and Activity Program

Our Team:

Initiatives in this program are directed by the Healthy Weight Operations Committee, chaired by Dr. David Hill, Lawson Health Research Institute.

Dr. Cheril Clarson, MD, FRCP Paediatric Endocrinologist
Dr. Dirk Bock, MD Paediatrician
Dr. Kambiz Norozi Paeds Cardiologist
Dr. Guido Filler Paeds Nephrologist
Dr. Piotr Wilk Epidemiologist
Dr. Bill Avison Sociologist
Dr. Danielle Batram Food and Nutrition Sciences
Leslie Harden Mgr Clinical Nutrition
Dr. Jason Gilliland Geographer

Our Program:

The Healthy Eating and Activity Program supports children and families. Initiatives have included outpatient based counselling on lifestyle and behaviour change, and metformin therapy. We have supported school interventions and population-based strategies. Our researchers are involved in cross-disciplinary efforts to reverse the trend of obesity in children and youth. Funding for these initiatives has been provided by Children's Health Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and Greenshield Community Giving Program.

Current Studies:

FOR HEALTH: A family-oriented Healthy Eating, Activity and Lifestyle Training with Hands-on experience for preschool children with unhealthy weights.

FOR HEALTH is currently recruiting for next program cycle.

The prevalence of childhood obesity in Canada has increased five-fold over the previous 15 years, with 26% of all Canadian children aged 2-17 years being overweight or obese and 9% being obese. Also, about 12% of U.S. preschool children aged 2-5 already are obese. Significant health risks are linked to obesity in children and adults, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, liver and gall bladder disease, respiratory problems including asthma, orthopaedic issues, as well as some cancers.

FOR HEALTH is a novel 6-month, family-centred, community-based intervention to support families with preschoolers (2 years 9 months - 6 years old) with unhealthy weights. FOR HEALTH aims to help participating families to develop a healthy lifestyle within their daily routines by providing hands-on experiences to increase nutritional knowledge, physical activity levels, and self-esteem.

The program is held at the YMCA Centre Branch in downtown London. It is a multi-disciplinary intervention that includes physical activity programming for children led by YMCA professionals experienced in delivering playful physical activity to preschool children, dietitian-lead group education for parents, individual nutrition counseling sessions, and combined parent-child activities including food-tasting. Height, weight, and several questionnaire-based measures are taken over the course of the program, and at 3 and 6 months after the program finished, to evaluate program success. Families receive complementary child care for siblings, free YMCA family memberships for the duration of the study, and free parking.

FOR HEALTH consists of an initial, more intensive 4-month phase with 6 weekly sessions, followed by 6 bi-weekly sessions (1 introduction, 9 group and 2 individual sessions, which include a “healthy cooking” class and a grocery shopping tour). This is followed by a 2-month maintenance phase with one session per month, and two follow-up visits 3 and 6 months after the maintenance phase. Program group sessions are 90 minutes in duration. During the first 60 minutes parents will have educational sessions around various aspects of healthy living and healthy weights, while the children will receive supervised, diverse, themed and playful physical activity lessons. This is followed by 30 minutes of joint parent-child activities including healthy food/snack tastings.

A conference poster on the methods of the FOR HEALTH program was presented at the 4th Canadian Obesity Summit in Toronto in April, 2015. (Link to poster).

The first program cycle concluded in July 2014, the second cycle is currently in progress. The start date for the next cycle/group is dependent on the number of referrals, but will likely be between September and November 2015.

The intervention is currently recruiting and accepting referrals.

Study Brochure and Screening Questionnaire

Letter of Information

Physician Referral Form

FOR HEALTH Program Poster

Principal Investigators: Dr. Dirk Bock, MD & Dr. Piotr Wilk, PhD, LHSC
Partnerships: YMCA,Thames Valley Family Health Team and London Family Health Team
Funding: Grants through the Children’s Health Research Institute and the Department of Paediatrics, University of Western Ontario, and the Lawson Health Research Institute, London Health Sciences Centre, London, Ontario.

Contact: Wendy Madarasz, BSc, MPE, RD
FOR HEALTH Registered Dietitian and Research Assistant
Phone: (519) 685-8500 ext. 56816
Fax: (519) 685-8499

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The Smart Heart Trial

The impact of a structured lifestyle intervention on body composition and exercise capacity in overweight children with operated heart defects

The Smart Heart Trial is a pilot telemedicine intervention to see if fitness and nutrition coaching provided over mobile phones for one year can have a positive impact on health, well-being and body measurements in overweight children and teenagers (7 -17 years old) who have had heart surgery.

The Smart Heart Trial begins early in 2013. This novel approach aims to involve participants dispersed over a wide geographical area, and to enhance participants’ experience through the use of specially developed smart phone software. Several biometrical measures are taken over the course of the intervention to evaluate program success for medical research.

Principal Investigators: Dr. Kambiz Norozi, MD, PhD & Dr. Eva Welisch, MD, LHSC
Collaborators: Dr. Harry Prapavessis, PhD, Dr. Roy Eagleson, PhD, Western University
Funding: AMOSO, Children’s Health Foundation

Contact: Meghan Rombeek, M.Sc, RD
Smart Heart Trial Research Associate & Registered Dietitian
Phone: (519) 685-8500 ext. 56816
Fax: (519) 685-8499


Bock DE, Robinson T, Seabrook JA, Rombeek M, Norozi K, Filler G, Rauch R, Clarson CL.
The Health Initiative Program for Kids (HIP Kids): effects of a 1-year multidisciplinary lifestyle intervention on adiposity and quality of life in obese children and adolescents - a longitudinal pilot intervention study.
BMC Pediatr. 2014; 14: 296. Article PDF

Ralf Rauch, Eva Welisch, Nathan Lansdell, Elizabeth Burrill, Judy Jones, Tracy Robinson, Dirk Bock, Cheril Clarson, Guido Filler, Kambiz Norozi. Noninvasive measurement of cardiac output in obese children and adolescents: Comparison of electrical velocimetry and transthoracic Doppler echocardiography. J Clin Monit Comput. 2013; 27 (2): 187-93.

Ralf Rauch, Frank Rauch, Dirk Bock, Eva Welisch, Guido Filler, Tracy Robinson, Elisabeth Burrill, Kambiz Norozi. Muscle force and power in obese and overweight children. J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact. 2013; 12 (2): 80-83.

Guido Filler, Abeer Yasin, Priya Kesarwani, Amit X. Garg, Robert Lindsay, Ajay P. Sharma. Big Mother or Small Baby: Which Predicts Hypertension? Journal of Clinical Hypertension, June 2010.
Quang Nhut Ngo, Abeer Yasin, Ajay Parkesh Sharma, Guido Filler. Children with Chronic Kidney Disease Are More Overweight in Canada than in Germany. Journal of US-China Medical Science. September 2010, Vol 7:9

Wilson JA, Prapavessis H, Jung ME, Cramp AG, Vascotto J, Lenhardt L, Shoemaher K, Watson M, Robinson T, Clarson CL. Lifestyle Modification and Metformin as Long-term Treatment Options for Obese Adolescents: Study Protocol. BMC Public Health 2009, 9:434

Clarson CL, Mahmud FH, Baker JE, Clark HE, Mckay WM, Schauteet VD , Hill DJ. Metformin in Combination with Structured Lifestyle Intervention Improved Body Mass Index in Obese Adolescents but did not Improve Insulin Resistance. Endocrine 2009 April 23

He M, Piche L, Clarson CL, Callaghan C, Harris SB. Childhood Overweight & Obesity Management: A National Perspective of Primary Health Care Providers’ Views, Practices, Perceived Barriers and Needs. Paediatrics & Child Health 2009


Bock DE, Madarasz W, Beamish L, Wilk P.

Methods of a Multidisciplinary, Community-based Treatment Program for Overweight and Obese Preschoolers: A Family-Oriented, Healthy Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle Training with Hands-on experience (FOR HEALTH).

4th Canadian Obesity Summit, Toronto ON, Canada. April 2015 (Poster link).

Bock DE, Robinson T, Rombeek M, Seabrook J, Clarson CL. Health Initiative Program for Child and Youth Overweight and Obesity (HIP Kids). 3rd Canadian Obesity summit, Vancouver BC, Canada. May 2013.

Bock DE, Robinson T, Clarson CL. HIP Kids, Health Initiative Program for Child and Youth Overweight and Obesity. Preliminary Results of the first two enrollment waves. Global Congress for Consensus in Pediatrics & Child Health, Paris, France. February 2011.

Implementing and Evaluating a Community-based Obesity Prevention Program for A High-risk Paediatric Population. Harvey, B., Mandich, G., Battram, D., He, M., Clarson, C., & Harris, S. Latino Families in Action (LFIA): 2009 Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) Annual Conference. Winnipeg, Manitoba. June, 2009.

Birthweight Impacts on Response to Lifestyle Intervention in Obese Insulin Resistant Adolescents. Clarson CL, Hill D. 40th Annual Meeting of Diabetic Pregnancy Study Group EASD, Cavtat, Croatia, Oct 2008.

Metformin in Combination with Intensive Lifestyle Intervention Improves Body Mass Index in Obese Insulin Resistant Adolescents. Clarson CL, Mahmud FH, Hill DJ. Oral presentation, American Diabetes Association’s 68th Scientific Sessions, San Francisco, CA. 2008. Diabetes 57 (Suppl. 1) p. A113, Abstract 392-OR.

Childhood Overweight and Obesity Management: Physician’s Views, Practices, Perceived Barriers and Needs. He, M. Harris, S.B., Piche, L. Clarson, CL, Cdn Journal of Diabetes. 2006:30 #154.

"Global Congress for Consensus in Pediatrics & Child Health, Paris, Presenters: Bock DE, Robinson T, Clarson CL, HIP Kids, Health Initiative Program for Child and Youth Overweight and Obesity. Preliminary Results of the first two enrollment waves. Global Congress for Consensus in Pediatrics & Child Health, February, 2011, Paris, France."


Relationship Between Body Mass Index and Metabolic Parameters in Obese Adolescents and Birth Size. Oral Presentation. David J. Hill, Harry Prapavessis, Kevin Shoemaker, Cheril Clarson. First Annual Research Day in Diabetes, University of Western Ontario. November 2010.

Adherence of Obese Adolescents to a Family Based Lifestyle Intervention. Margaret Watson, Michelle Jackman, Megan Rombeek, Sarah Denomme, Harry Prapavessis, Julie Gerber, A. Justine Wilson, Cheril L. Clarson. 3rd Conference on Recent Advances in the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood & Adolescent Obesity: Families in Focus. October 2010.

Long-term Physical Activity Behaviour in Obese Adolescents: Effects of an Exercise and Group-Mediated Cognitive Behavioural Intervention.
Justine Wilson, Jacqueline Simatovic, Sarah Kasman, Louise Radford, Petra Kovacks, Mary E. Jung, Harry Prapavessis, Cheril Clarson.
3rd Conference on Recent Advances in the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood & Adolescent Obesity: Families in Focus. October 2010.

A Group-Mediated Cognitive-Behavioural Exercise Intervention for Obese Adolescents. A.J. Wilson, M.E. Jung, A.G. Cramp, J. Simatovic, H. Prapavessis, C. Clarson. The Canadian Society for Psychomotor Learning and Sport Psychology: Ottawa, Ontario. October 2010.

HIP Kids, Health Initiative for Child and Youth Overweight and Obesity. Tracy Robinson, Dirk Bock, Michelle Jackman, Johanna Kaipainen, Joy Vascotto, Cheril L. Clarson. Oral Presentation Canadian Obesity Network Student Meeting: Ottawa, June 2010.

"Interventions for Childhood Obesity" Drug Therapy Day, London, Ontario. Presenter: Bock, DE. January, 2011
"Diagnostic and Management Approach of Childhood Obesity" Drug Therapy Day, London, Ontario, Presenter: Bock, DE, March, 2011
"Kliniken Nordoberpfalz AG", Department of Pediatrics, D-92637 Weiden, Germany. Presenter, Bock, DE, May, 2011.

In the Media:

Watch an interview with Dr. Cheril Clarson about the REACH program (courtesy of Rogers TV)

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