University at Buffalo - The State University of New York
Skip to Content

News and views for UB faculty and staff

Research News

HHS produces multimedia program on work of UB epidemiologist

Looks at which childhood obesity prevention programs actually work


Published August 21, 2014

Youfa Wang

Youfa Wang, professor of epidemiology and environmental health, is the subject matter expert and video presenter for a multimedia streaming video comparing the effectiveness of childhood obesity programs that were produced by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), a unit of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

It is available at the AHRQ web site for members only.

The 2013 study upon which this effort is based is “Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs: Comparative Effectiveness Review and Meta-Analysis.” It was originally prepared for AHRQ, which disseminates evidence-based products, tools and research to specific audiences.

In fact, the agency previously produced a continuing education program for physicians based on the report. The new program will extend its reach to a larger target audience of health professionals and others interested in obesity prevention

The report was the work of Wang, an internationally recognized expert in childhood obesity, and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins University Evidence-based Practice Center.

“Childhood obesity prevention is a national priority,” Wang says, “and this two-year comprehensive systematic study evaluated the effectiveness of childhood obesity prevention programs available in high-income countries worldwide. Our principle finding was that some intervention programs can help reduce children’s risk for developing obesity. We presented the elements of those programs and recommended directions for future related research.”

The importance of this research, he says, is demonstrated by the fact that more than 30 percent of American children and adolescents are overweight or obese. “Overweight” means a child is above the weight considered normal and healthy for their height and can lead to obesity as an adult. “Obese” means a child is severely overweight with a BMI – an estimate of body fat – equal to or greater than the 95th percentile for their height and weight.