Helping teens eat healthy

Megan OberleSevere obesity in teens is a tough nut to crack. But with the stakes so high, including health impacts ranging from heart disease, to diabetes, to anxiety and depression, it’s a health crisis we can’t afford to ignore.

That’s why faculty at the University of Minnesota are dedicated to using innovative approaches to stop severe obesity in adolescents.

Megan Oberle, M.D., part of the U’s pediatrics faculty and recipient of the Masonic Early Investigator Award, is one of the latest researchers to make headway in solving this challenging health issue.

With Masonic support, Oberle and her team tested a meal kit subscription program at the U’s pediatric weight management clinic and found the program was both possible to implement and acceptable to patients and families.

During their regularly scheduled clinic visits, 20 families received a meal kit, which included recipes and nonperishable items to make two healthy dinners. Additionally, they were given Cub Foods gift cards to purchase perishable items. They then participated in a focus group two weeks later to tell Oberle’s team about  their experience with the kits and if they felt they made cooking at home easier.

“Families were surprised by how easy it was to cook simple, healthy meals and wanted more guidance on this in the clinic,” Oberle says. So now, the next big step for her team is to apply for additional support to eventually test the meal kit program on a larger scale.

In addition to enabling her to gather key pilot data through her meal kit study, Masonic support helped attract Oberle to the U in the first place. She joined the pediatrics faculty in 2017 and accepted the position “to specifically work with the newly formed Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine,” a program that launched in part because of funding from Minnesota Masonic Charities.

Click here to learn more about the Center for Pediatric Obesity Medicine and its approach to tackling severe obesity.  

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