MHI's Conference on Pediatric Obesity

May 27th 2014

MHI's April 25th conference on Pediatric Obesity featured national subject matter experts, a contingent of state resources, and a keynote presentation by Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP, President-elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and chair of the AAP’s Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight.  Below, you can find information about the presenters, as well as PDF versions of their slides.  Click here to view the conference agenda.

Sandra Hassink, MD, FAAP

Dr. Hassink is the President Elect of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).  She has testified before Congress on childhood obesity and has served as faculty for “Be Our Voice” advocacy training and the AAP’s legislative conference. She has served as Chapter Vice President, Chapter President and National Nominating Committee Representative, District vice Chair and District Chairperson for District III.

She is the chair of the Governor’s Council for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention in Delaware.  She has authored numerous articles, two AAP books, “A Parent’s Guide to Childhood Obesity",“Pediatric Obesity: Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment Strategies for Primary Care”, as well as “Clinical Guide to Pediatric Weight Management."  She serves as Chair of the Advisory Committee for the AAP Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight.  Dr. Hassink co chairs the APA Obesity SIG and was national faculty on the Healthy Weight Collaborative. She is a member of her hospital IRB, and has chaired the hospital Ethics committee.  She earned her M.S. in Pastoral Care and Counseling in 2000. Dr. Hassink has been married for 38 years to her husband Bill and they have 3 grown children. 


Keynote - The State of Pediatric Obesity


Kristin Hughes, MFA

Kristin Hughes is a designer and educator whose innovative work in healthcare exemplifies the benefit of fusing design with community engagement to address complex social problems.

One of Kristin’s major accomplishments is the creation of Fitwits, a health improvement program designed for young patients, their families and the doctors they visit. Using game design, Fitwits has character-based agents and health-inspired activities to motivate children to engage in meaningful, measurable practices that improve their health. It also provides tools—both paper and digital—that parents and doctors can use to gain insight into the health-impacting choices a child is making. The Fitwits organization is headquartered in the East Liberty neighborhood of Pittsburgh.

Kristin’s belief in community-based research led her to use it as a means to hone and refine the Fitwits program. The features and structure of Fitwits were developed over many years through trials and iterations of use various communities in Pittsburgh. Community-based research encourages community members to become active partners in the research process, thus allowing every participant to share his or her own expertise, to participate in decision making, and ultimately, to help design solutions to typical daily problems, both large and small.


Fitwits: Making learning about obesity prevention fun and rewarding


Laura Frank, PhD, RD, LDN

Dr. Laura B. Frank is Chair of and Professor in the Immaculata University Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, and has been an educator for over 30 years, both in academia and community health promotion.  She holds a MPH from UCLA, and Master's in Counseling Psychology and PhD in Health Education from Temple University.  She is a PA Licensed Psychologist and Certified Rehabilitation Counselor with specialized training and experience in neuropsychology, and is currently a Fellow in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) program at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.  Dr. Frank has co-presented the EPIC Obesity program numerous times and is on the advisory board for that program.


Nutrition, Obesity, and Feeding Issues for Families With Special Needs Children: Strategies and Resources for Understanding and Problem-solving

Recess! by Playworks Pennsylvania

Playworks is a national nonprofit organization that believes in the power of play to bring out the best in every kid. The organization improves school climate, reduces bullying and increases student engagement in school through play and physical activity. Playworks Pennsylvania serves 6,500 students in 15 low-income schools in the Philadelphia School District and hundreds of thousands more in 23 locations around the country. 

During their demonstration at the conference, Playworks engaged the attendees in physical activities that they could share with the children they work with, and emphasized the importance of play in social and physical development.

Mary Ann Abrams, MD, MPH

Mary Ann Abrams, M.D., M.P.H. led Iowa Health System’s (now UnityPoint Health) health literacy quality initiative and development of Health Literacy Iowa, the statewide center for health literacy. She focuses on implementing and sustaining health literacy-related interventions in real-world clinical settings, including development of a reader-friendly consent for surgery/procedures, an Always Use Teach-back! Toolkit, and online training modules on health literacy.

She co-chaired the American Academy of Pediatrics Health Literacy Project Advisory Committee, served on the American College of Physicians Foundation Health Literacy Programs Committee, and was a Pfizer Visiting Professor in Health Literacy. She is co-editor and contributing author to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Plain Language Pediatrics guidebook, and has published on implementing health literacy-based interventions, pediatric health literacy, and partnering with patients and adult learners. Dr. Abrams is Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine. She is board-certified in pediatrics and preventive medicine, and has worked at the clinical/public health interface at national, state, and local levels.


Plain Language and Teach-back: Practical Health Literacy Strategies for Addressing Pediatric Obesity


Jennifer Franceschelli Hosterman, DO

Dr. Jennifer Franceschelli is the Medical Director at Camp Energy, a camp devised to educate overweight/obese adolescents in healthy eating and exercise.  Dr. Franceschelli has participated in psychological interventions, advocacy training, ongoing research groups, and weight management camps to gain a better understanding of how obesity “the disease” occurs as well as how it can be effectively prevented or successfully treated.  Her long term goal is to be able to treat the obese patient from birth all the way through adulthood.  She practices at the Geisinger Medical Center.   


Let’s Talk About…Weight


Marsha Novick, MD

Dr. Marsha Novick is the Medical Director of the Pediatric Multidisciplinary Weight Loss Program at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital.  She graduated from Rush Medical College in Chicago and completed her residency at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.  She is board certified in family medicine and is a Diplomate of the Board of Obesity Medicine.   Before moving to Central Pennsylvania, Dr. Novick was the Medical Director and owner of the Seacoast Weight & Wellness Center, a weight loss clinic for adults and children in Exeter, New Hampshire.  For the last 7 years, she has worked at the Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital in the Division of the Pediatric Multidisciplinary Weight Loss Program, specifically helping thousands of obese children, adolescents and their families with weight management.  


Billing and Coding for Pediatric Obesity Care

Dr. Novick also provided attendees with a handout about Helpful Tips for Pediatric Obesity Billing.


Esther K. Chung, MD, MPH

Esther K. Chung, MD, MPH, FAAP is Professor of Pediatrics at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and Nemours in Philadelphia.  She currently is Director of the Newborn Nursery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and Director of JeffSTARS, and advocacy educational curriculum for medical students and residents.  Prior to joining the faculty at JMC, she was on faculty at the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco and the University of Pennsylvania and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.  Dr. Chung partnered with Maternity Care Coalition in Philadelphia to address breastfeeding policies related to low-income families, workplaces and hospitals; and she serves on the faculty for EPIC-BEST with the PA AAP.  Her areas of research interest include maternal and child health disparities, adverse childhood experiences, and vulnerable populations.  She lives in southeastern PA with her husband and two teen daughters.


The Relationship between Breastfeeding and Childhood Obesity: What Does the Evidence Show?



The following resource vendors attended and shared information at the conference: