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Pediatric Obesity Section
January 2012
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Pediatric Obesity Section

Welcome to the Pediatric Obesity Section Newsletter!

Alison Field
We hope you enjoyed the Holiday season and are ready for a healthy and productive 2012.   

The POS Council continues planning for the 2012 meeting as well as fundraising efforts to support travel fellowships and pilot studies. We have also added two new sections to our Newsletter: a Member Spotlight and Policy Corner. The Member Spotlight will highlight the career paths of POS members at different stages in their careers.  Our goal is to provide additional insight and advice for our student, post-doc, and early-career investigator members.  The Policy Corner will summarize a few notable issues in the pediatric obesity policy arena.  If you have additional information you wish to share with POS members, please let us know!  

--Alison Field, Chair
On behalf of the POS Leadership

The Obesity Society Annual Meeting
Get Your Abstracts Ready!  

The next Obesity Society Annual Meeting will take place in San Antonio, TX from September 20-24, 2012.  

The abstract submission site opens  Wednesday, February 1, 2012 and closes Monday, March 12, 2012, 11:59 pm Eastern Time.  You can find additional details by clicking HERE.
Or by clicking HERE

Member Spotlight: Aviva Must, PhD

In this issue we are putting the Spotlight on Dr. Aviva Must, Professor and Chair of Public Health and Community Medicine, and Dean, Public Health and Professional Degree Programs at Tufts University School of Medicine.  Dr. Must is a long-standing member of The Obesity Society and one of the founding members of the Pediatric Obesity Interest Group - the predecessor to the Pediatric Obesity Section.

Dr. Must's research has focused on the epidemiology of obesity across the lifespan with a particular interest in physical and psychosocial health consequences during adolescence. Other research foci include the development of valid survey measures and surveillance systems for pediatric obesity and proximal modifiable behaviors (nutrition, physical activity, sedentary behavior).

Given her long, successful career, we spent some time asking Dr. Must what advice she has for POS student, post-doc, and early-career investigator members.  Here's some of what she said, 


Q: "...What factors do you think helped you land your first position?  Anything you would do differently?"

R: "I have been extremely fortunate to have had good mentors - mentors who saw getting junior folks established as part of their responsibility. Certain mentors were instrumental in helping me land my first position.  I also worked as an instructor in the medical school during my research training and this helped me to get to know different people within different departments."

"...One minor regret, which I couldn't do that much about at the time, was to be at an institution other than Tufts.  I think it would have helped me to grow.  However, nothing really presented itself at the time, and I was somewhat limited geographically.  I also regret not taking full advantage of my status as a special student at the Harvard School of Public Health.  There were several biostatistics courses I wish I would have taken then.  You' think you'll have time "later" but one just gets busier. 

Q: "What advice do you have for balancing research and teaching responsibilities?"

R: "Learn to get along with very little sleep!  No, seriously, it's always good to try and negotiate a small amount of money that you have control over even if it's as little as $5K.  This will help to pay for a student to either assist you with putting teaching materials together, writing the background section of a grant, etc."

Q: "You were recently appointed as Dean. What aspects do you enjoy most about this role? What aspects of your background helped prepare you for this role?"

R: "Up until I was Dean, the aspect of my faculty position that I enjoyed most was mentoring doctoral students.  As a Dean and Chair I now mentor junior faculty and it has the same challenges and rewards.  I also get to think more "big picture" to plan new curricula and programs, which I enjoy a lot."

"...I come from a long line of Psychologists, and so I like to think that I have good instincts when it comes to human behavior.  Understanding the value and art of interpersonal relationships is a necessary part of this job - as a Dean and as a collaborator in the research context.  To be successful in this line of work you must have good people skills.  If not, try to cultivate this from good mentoring. It is also worth considering that one's mentor need not be just one person.  It's better to think of creating a group of mentors similar to a personal Board of Directors.  You need different people to help you in different aspects of your professional life.   If you feel that some aspect needs improving, find someone who can serve as a role model and ask for their feedback.  Be comfortable with the fact that everyone has strengths and weaknesses. That area may never be your strength, but it doesn't have to be your greatest weakness either."

Q: "What advice do you have for those just entering this profession?"

R: "Try and keep a few things going at all times.  Funding is really tight right now.  To those just starting out, I would recommend sticking with it.  If you have what you believe is a good idea, hang in there and push it forward.  You may need to be single-minded at times.  Also, think about 3 areas you want to continue to move forward: 1) Your main research area, 2) a secondary focus; and 3) an area of methodology.  This last area is especially important because it gives you the flexibility to work in many different areas."  


Policy Corner
Congress Blocks Changes to School Lunch Standards: In January 2011, the USDA proposed new changes to the Federal School Lunch Program (see them here: HERE), which would have boosted the fruit, vegetable, and whole grain content while limiting other factors (amount of sodium, use of the amount of potatoes served, etc). However, in late 2011, Congress blocked the USDA from using money to carry out any of the proposed rules leaving many to speculate that Congress is putting the interests of food companies before the health and welfare of our nation's children.

Federal Budget update: On December 23, 2011, the omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2012 passed by Congress and was signed into law by President Obama. You can find a summary of the bill provisions and funding dollars allocated to each agency by clicking HERE. On the whole, the FY 2012 Consolidated Appropriations Act leaves the overall National Institutes of Health R&D budget largely unchanged, with just a $1 million addition to last year's $30.2 billion R&D budget. In the final bill, Congress agreed to establish within NIH the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, an entity that will seek to "reengineer" the process by which new discoveries in fundamental science move from lab to clinic. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and the Food and Drug Administration see substantial cuts in R&D budgets of 11.2 percent and 28.5 percent, respectively.

New Proposed Laws for Weight Management Reimbursement: The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has determined that intensive behavioral therapy for obesity is reasonable and necessary for the prevention or early detection of illness or disability. For Medicare beneficiaries with obesity, who are competent and alert at the time that counseling is provided and whose counseling is furnished by a qualified primary care physician or other primary care practitioner and in a primary care setting, CMS covers:

*    One face-to-face visit every week for the first month;
*    One face-to-face visit every other week for months 2-6;
*    One face-to-face visit every month for months 7-12, if the beneficiary meets the 3kg weight loss requirement as discussed below.

For additional details, click HERE.

Career Opportunities

Remember to check out the Job Center at

You can use this resource of The Obesity Society to post your resume and search for job openings.  There are a number of current openings for our pediatric obesity experts, including but not limited to:

*    Advanced Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor : The Center for Health, Intervention, and Prevention (CHIP) at the University of Connecticut, in conjunction with the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), is seeking a tenured or tenure-track professor, at the Advanced Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor level, with scholarly expertise and significant external funding in the area of obesity prevention and control in adults and/or children. (Job ID: 9241380)

*    Pediatrician/Assistant Professor: The Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition at Nationwide Children's Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics at The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio is seeking a junior or early mid-career faculty to join their team. The Center for Healthy Weight and Nutrition offers a comprehensive approach to weight management in children. (Job ID: 8784120)

*    Post-doctoral fellow: The Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill seeks a postdoctoral fellow to work with the UNC Children's Healthy Weight Team. This fellowship will offer the opportunity to develop expertise in the methods used in childhood obesity prevention studies, with a particular focus on families and early childhood education settings. (Job ID: 9123599)
Share Your News and Ideas!
We always want to hear from you!  Submit your significant pediatric news items and we'll add them to the POS webpage.  News items may include new publications, career awards, new centers, large projects, upcoming conferences, etc.   All items will be reviewed by POS Council prior to posting.  We also look forward to comments, suggestions and ideas for future topics for the next publication of the POS Newsletter.  Please send these to Sadie Campbell at


For questions about this communication or about The Obesity Society, please contact Sadie Campbell at: