Public Health Seminar Series:

Obesity in Childhood Cancer Survivors: A Growing Crisis and Opportunities of Early Intervention by Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD

Monday, October 26, 2015 12:00pm - 1:00pm Calit2 Auditorium OCW Video Archive
Seminar Abstract

Dramatic improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer in childhood have led to a rapidly growing cohort of survivors, now estimated to exceed 420,000. However, this success is associated with the recognition that childhood cancer survivors have significantly elevated risk of premature mortality and serious morbidity related to chronic health conditions that develop at a young age. We have shown that childhood cancer survivors not only have significantly higher body mass index than their peers, they also experience unhealthy weight gain early in treatment and increases in weight are maintained throughout treatment and beyond. Nutrition is one of the cornerstones for cancer prevention and control. Our study using repeated 24 hour diet recalls found that childhood cancer survivors had poor adherence to dietary guidelines. They are particularly burdened by suboptimal intake of whole grains, sodium, and empty calories. In addition, we identified low levels of habitual energy expenditure in childhood cancer survivors. An energy deficit of approximately 500 kcal per day suggests that weight management needs to target both dietary intake and physical activity to achieve energy balance. Intake patterns in childhood cancer survivors are established risk factors for chronic diseases. Our findings highlight the need for ongoing evaluation with childhood survivors to assess intake patterns and targeted intervention to promote healthy consumption to prevent long-term morbidity. Future interventions need to capture sensitive windows for weight gain, and also address changes in parenting styles and specific barriers experienced by survivors and families for healthy eating and active living.

Speaker Biography - Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD

Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD
Fang Fang Zhang, MD, PhD Assistant Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University
Dr. Fang Fang Zhang is a physician scientist who earned her PhD degree in epidemiology from the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, New York. Dr. Zhang’s research focuses on chronic disease epidemiology and the role of nutrition in cancer prevention and control. She pioneered studies that identified a high prevalence of obesity in childhood cancer survivors and a sensitive window for unhealthy weight gain. She is also evaluating the association between nutritional intake and survival outcomes in more than 7,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer, and identifying cost-effective strategies to provide nutritional support to the growing population of cancer survivors. She teaches epidemiologic methods, applied data analysis skills, and nutritional epidemiology at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University.

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