The Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children in Wilmington, Delaware, has launched a medical fellowship in pediatric obesity care.

It is the first such fellowship approved by the accrediting body, and Nemours said it is the only certified program in the nation.

 

"I think across the country, with rates of pediatric obesity increasing, we need a new generation of providers who are interested and well-trained to provide the medical care that children need," says Dr. George Datto, fellowship director.

He hopes the creation of the position also changes thinking.

"(That) the disease of obesity is thought to be a significant medical problem and a chronic disease," Datto said, "and not just a moral failure or failure of will-power."

More than a third of American children and adolescents are overweight or obese.

Stella Volpe, chair of the nutrition sciences department at Drexel University, said this kind of advanced training is becoming more common for health-care workers who intervene at all stages of disease progression.

"We need to really work on preventing this from happening at all, just like with other chronic diseases that are preventable," Volpe said. "Having said that, we know that with millions of people that's probably not going to happen, and so therefore we still need to have specialized care for when people do get there."

A newly formed professional organization offered the first certification exam in obesity medicine late last year.