What if we could prevent 30,000 children from becoming obese adults in the next five years?

What if we could prevent 30,000 children from becoming obese adults in the next five years?

Donnelly, who directs the Life Span’s Center for Physical Activity and Weight Management, will lead a new, ambitious effort to combat the obesity epidemic that now afflicts 24.3 percent of all Kansas children and 32 percent of all Missouri children.

Located at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, the new Center for Physical Activity, Nutrition and Weight Management, will be one of the nation’s largest public-private partnerships addressing obesity and one of the few nationwide focusing on childhood obesity.

“The new Center makes possible the critical mass of research investigators and clinicians necessary for a diverse, sustained and coordinated effort to prevent and treat obesity and associated disease,” Donnelly said.

Donnelly is well prepared to fight obesity on a public health scale. He directs several current research projects involving more than 15,000 area children in strategies to combat obesity involving physical activity and environment, diet and public policy in homes, schools and recreational settings.

The Center could have significant public health benefits in the region that will compound over time. Opening in the fall of 2007, the Center aims to serve 300 children in clinical settings in 3-6 month research programs by fall 2009 and 30,000 children in school and home-based programs in the Kansas- Missouri region by 2011.

Donnelly, nationally known for his research-based public health and clinical approaches to both prevent and treat obesity, will collaborate with a Children’s Mercy team as well as researchers and clinicians from the Kansas University Medical Center and the University of Missouri School of Medicine.

The center will occupy the second story of the new Don Chisholm Center at Children’s Mercy, currently under renovation at the northwest corner of 22nd and Holmes and scheduled to open within the next 18 months.

The 14,000-square-foot facility will have offices, exercise rooms for children and adults, a metabolic kitchen, examination rooms, a wet lab, specialized equipment for measuring body composition and metabolism, an outdoor physical activity park and meeting rooms. It will also include a whole-room calorimeter, one of the few in the United States, which measures the energy a person’s body uses in normal activities.

“Obesity is the disease of the century,” Donnelly insists. “We can’t treat every man, woman and child individually, so the public health approach is critical.”