CORAL GABLES, Fla.--(EON: Enhanced Online News)--Dr. Howard N. Rose, M.D. (B.S., Chemistry ’51, M.S. ‘52) of Ponte Vedra Beach, has spent his life helping his patients to see. Now retired but continuing to volunteer his skills, he and his wife, Muriel (a retired teacher), are helping a generation of children to avoid obesity, a risk factor for a host of health problems facing Americans including heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.
“Data support the need to improve the health and lifestyle habits of children and adolescents and underscore the urgent need for accessible prevention strategies.”
As an ophthalmologist, Dr. Rose has seen first-hand the deleterious effects of obesity on many of his patients’ vision and overall health. After years of struggling to help adult patients change their behaviors and lose weight, he is now directing his efforts at youth. “The only way to solve this problem is through the children, to teach them how to live a long, sweet life,” Rose said. “We hope they can reach up and help their parents too, but we have to get to the children.” For Dr. Rose, prevention is the key to promoting good life-long health.
Recent studies indicate that more than 30 percent of US children are overweight or obese. These children are at higher risk for becoming overweight and obese adults without prevention or intervention.
The Roses’ $1 million gift will underwrite the Reaching Overweight/Obese Students Everywhere (ROSE) Program and provides an important training opportunity for University of Miami undergraduates and graduate students to learn to work with children as ROSE health ambassadors. Starting this fall, the health ambassadors will begin educating and mentoring K-12 students on the benefits of and strategies for adopting a healthy lifestyle involving good nutrition and physical activity. “Educating and nurturing students is central to the ROSE program,” said Dr. Patrice Saab, professor of psychology in the College of Arts and Sciences and director of the program. “Data support the need to improve the health and lifestyle habits of children and adolescents and underscore the urgent need for accessible prevention strategies.”
Free individualized clinic-based consultation and intervention appointments will also be available to interested families with overweight or obese children. Here, ROSE clinical psychology graduate students will provide tailored health recommendations, foster an understanding of how lifestyle changes can contribute to better health, and help children and parents problem solve potential barriers to behavior change.
A ROSE website will provide resources and information to anyone seeking information on childhood obesity prevention and intervention. Saab hopes the site eventually might be expanded to include individualized plans and personalized feedback.
Saab and her colleagues will also conduct clinical research through ROSE. The program will allow researchers to learn how health education and prevention efforts affect health knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors in children and their families.
The Roses hope their investment in ROSE will help to identify a model for childhood obesity prevention programs throughout the country. “We have to do something about this now,” Rose said. “Obesity is a terrible health problem, and we have to start to resolve it.”