CDC’s Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration (CORD) Project 3.0

A mother with her children

Childhood obesity remains a pressing public health concern, affecting nearly 1 in 5 US children. In addition, some groups experience higher rates, such as children from lower-income families.

Building on previous Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration (CORD) projects, CORD 3.0 research teams will focus on adapting, testing, and packaging effective programs to reduce childhood obesity among children from lower-income families. In addition, CORD 3.0 projects will work towards programs that are sustainable and cost-effective in multiple settings. Research teams will translate these programs into user-friendly, “packaged” materials and messages that healthcare, community, or public health organizations can use in real-world settings.

CORD 3.0 has the potential to reduce childhood obesity by increasing the availability of effective pediatric weight management interventions for millions of children from lower-income families.

CORD 3.0 funds five recipients for 5 years (Funding Period 2019-2024).

For additional CORD resources and information, please see CORD 1.0 and CORD 2.0.

CDC launched CORD 1.0 in 2010 and funded four recipients to use a whole-community approach to address childhood obesity. Several sites saw reductions in children’s body mass index (BMI), a body measurement that can be used to screen for weight categories.

Findings from CORD 1.0 sites suggest that interventions that address two or more levels of influence, such as the patient, healthcare provider, family, or community, can improve childhood obesity prevention and management.

In 2016, CDC launched CORD 2.0, funding two recipients to continue to conduct research on the effectiveness of using obesity screening and behavioral counseling to combat childhood obesity. Recipients put into place and evaluated a family-centered, weight management intervention for children. Referrals to these interventions were based on electronic health records. Recipients also collaborated with state Child Health Insurance Programs and Medicaid offices to recommend sustainable and scalable program components.

An important step in translating evidence-based programs into routine practice is the creation of user-friendly intervention materials and messages. CORD 3.0 builds on prior CORD projects by increasing the availability and number of packaged, effective programs to address childhood obesity. Projects will ensure that these programs can be used by healthcare, community, or public health organizations to serve families with lower incomes and that the programs are sustainable in multiple settings.

Massachusetts General Hospital

Massachusetts General Hospital CORD 3.0 will package together two childhood obesity interventions – Connect for Health and the Mass in Motion Kids Healthy Weight Clinic – in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight. Massachusetts General Hospital will work with three community-based health centers in Mississippi to ensure the packaged programs can be effective and sustainable in primary care settings where the majority of patients use Medicaid, and with substantially high prevalence of obesity.

The Miriam Hospital (Providence, Rhode Island)

The Miriam Hospital CORD 3.0 will prepare and evaluate the JOIN for ME program for use in two different settings: the first in the housing authority and the second in patient-centered medical home sites. The JOIN for ME program is a child weight management intervention that can be used in many community settings. JOIN for ME includes strong parental involvement and has found meaningful reductions in body mass index in children 6-12 years of age.

Stanford University

Stanford University CORD 3.0 will use technology, design, behavioral theory, and biomedical business innovation strategies to prepare the Stanford Pediatric Weight Control Program (SPWCP) to reach children throughout the U.S. SPWCP is a family-based group program to address childhood obesity. Stanford University will evaluate the effectiveness of this program in four local organizations serving low-income families.

University of Nebraska

University of Nebraska CORD 3.0 will build on their previous work that adapted the Building Healthy Families (BHF) program to a micropolitan area of 10,000 to 50,000 residents. In the past BHF researchers saw significant decreases in child BMI. University of Nebraska CORD 3.0 will package BHF for successful adaptation to rural communities and other micropolitan areas to decrease the number of adults and children with obesity.

Washington University in St. Louis

Washington University CORD 3.0 will package and evaluate the evidence-based Family-based Behavioral Treatment (FBT) for use in diverse primary care settings, such as in urban and rural communities, and with families with lower-income. FBT is a proven behavioral program that works with both children and parents. Research indicates that FBT can reduce child BMI, and the average parent loses about 20 pounds during treatment. This CORD 3.0 project will test whether FBT can be cost-effective and sustainable when used in diverse primary care settings.