As most parents know, keeping kids healthy can be a full-time job. There are doctor appointments to be kept and vitamins and prescription meds to be administered, not to mention a daily effort to put healthy meals on the table. Thankfully, though, the past 10 years have seen considerable advancements in the field of children’s health, courtesy of some of the top researchers and physicians. Here, we’ve compiled a list of four people whose efforts over the past decade have made our job as parents just a bit easier.
Dr. Lynn Gettleman-Chehab
According to the American Heart Association, one in three American children is either overweight or obese. That’s nearly three times the rate in 1963! It’s a national crisis by all accounts, but while pundits argue over the cause of so many overweight kids (sugary sodas? Video games?), a solution seems to be still out of reach. Enter Dr. Lynn Gettleman-Chehab, a board certified, fellowship-trained pediatrician at Insight Behavioral Health Centers and staff physician at a school-based health center.
Over the past eight years, Dr. Chehab has created “Six to Success,” a clinic-based obesity program that combines simple messages with social work support to help adolescents achieve personal weight management. The program breaks down as follows: 5 — Eat five servings of fruits/vegetables a day; 4 – Drink at least four glasses of water a day; 3 – Eat three meals a day; 2 – Limit yourself to less than two hours of screen time a day; 1 – One or more hours of physical activity a day; 0 – Drink zero sugar beverages (sodas, juices, etc.); only water and/or milk.
The focus of “Six to Success” is on a few small changes that can have a significant impact in helping kids get on a healthy track. Most important, though, is Dr. Chehab’s work to address the underlying psychological issues that often lead to weight problems. “Even now, much of the pediatric literature cites low self-esteem and mental health issues as results of obesity, and not causes,” says. Dr. Chehab. “but improving mental health is a key component to better weight management.”
Dr. Jenny Yip
Parenting is difficult enough with seemingly “normal” kids. Throw in a mental health issue like obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or severe anxiety, and even the most well-adjusted, stable parents are left reeling … scrambling for a solution.
As a result, Dr. Jenny Yip, a Los Angeles-based clinical psychologist with a specialization in children’s mental health and founder of the Renewed Freedom Center, has developed a unique treatment. Yips’s Family Systems-Based Strategic CBT (cognitive behavior therapy) is groundbreaking in that it was developed to include all family members, instead of only the affected child, to maximize effectiveness. The idea is that, because children are part a family unit, they are affected by their relationships with other family members. By integrating the whole family into treatment, a child is supported by a network that establishes appropriate boundaries instead of enabling OCD to progress further into adulthood.
The results are convincing: A recent study from Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center discovered that 69 percent of children ages 5 to 8 who completed family-based CBT treatment for 14 weeks achieved remission from OCD. “We ensure that parents, not just the child, are trained with tools so that their child can grow, thrive and one day live independently as adults,” says Yip. “We teach parents how to be the therapist.”
Dr. Ellie Phillips
As a veteran dentist with more than 35 years in practice, oral health—and the oral health of kids, especially—is of the utmost importance to Dr. Ellie Phillips. And that’s a good thing, considering that oral health issues have been linked to more general health problems (like heart disease) and, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, tooth decay affects U.S. children more than any other chronic infectious disease.
Swapping candy bars for apples may not go over well in most households, but Phillips has created a line of products that allows kids to enjoy sweet treats without the ugly side effects. In 2005 she launched Zellie’s Inc., a company that manufactures all-natural gums and mints sweetened with xylitol, an all-natural sweetener that actually reduces the amount of bacteria in the mouth, thus decreasing the incidence of tooth decay.
Additionally, in 2012, Zellie’s introduced their Polar Bear line, quick-dissolving candies for children to create a kid-friendly alternative to gums and mints. And in 2014, Zellie’s established the Gift of Healthy Teeth Fund, which contributes 1 percent of gross sales to support oral health education and prevention programs as a continued effort to reduce the instances of tooth decay and gum disease in the population.
Dr. Charles Rocamboli
When you’re faced with choosing between medical treatment options for your child, wouldn’t it be great if you could instantly discover what’s proven most effective for others like him? Now, thanks to Dr. Charles Rocamboli’s CureCrowd, parents may be able to do just that.
As an emergency physician, Rocamboli noticed that parents of sick children are rarely offered treatment options that, while unconventional, have nonetheless proven successful for other patients. So, to bridge the gap, he launched CureCrowd, a website research engine that compiles patient experiences to chart the effectiveness of treatment options, side-by-side and without bias. And it’s completely free to anyone with an Internet connection.
With less than a year in existence, Rocamboli’s self-funded project has gained national attention and support from prestigious colleagues, including renowned doctors from Albert Einstein Medical School and UCLA who serve on CureCrowds advisory board. And the site, which has also pioneered an entirely new fundraising platform for disease organizations, has generated tons of media buzz from the likes of InformationWeek, CNET and The Huffington Post. Lindsay Dunn, editor-in-chief of Becker’s Hospital Review, recently predicted, “CureCrowd could one day be the go-to resource for physicians and patients.”