Penn State Hershey Med receives $2.2 million to participate in obesity study

HERSHEY, Pa. (WHTM) – The Penn State College of Medicine has received $2.2 million in funding from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to participate in a new diabetes research network and study the effectiveness of obesity counseling.

Experts at Penn State Hershey Medical Center said obesity is the biggest health threat against the public right now. It’s also the second most preventable cause of death behind smoking. But his new study will hopefully change that.

“One of the saddest figures I’ve heard is that our youngest generation is expected to live shorter lives than their parents. All due to the obesity epidemic,” Dr. Jennifer Kraschnewski, assistant professor of medicine and public health sciences, said.

Obesity can lead to diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and even cancer.

“We have expertise within our institution in the realm of obesity care for patients,” Kraschnewski said.

In 2002, medicare and other insurance providers began to cover a benefit to allow patients receive obesity counseling.

“But to date it’s unclear whether or not this counseling benefit has had an impact on patient’s health and outcomes that patients really care about,” Kraschnewski said.

Their goal is to prove how it can help.

“And try to understand why some people receive the benefit and others didn’t, and what the impact of that counseling is,” Kraschnewski said.

The five-year study will look at what happened before the counseling was covered, and follow patients who might have received this benefit.

“We’re hopeful that this is something that we can encourage people to receive because they’re entitled to it through their insurance,” Kraschnewski said.

Researchers hope the counseling will help patients lose weight, decrease the risk of developing diabetes, and help control it.

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