With more than 6,000 children under the age of 10, Richmond has one of the lowest rates of childhood obesity in the nation.
But a recent survey found that nearly half of the children in Richmond were not eating a healthy diet.
The survey also found that children who live with a single parent are more likely to be obese than those with two or more parents.
“Our pediatricians know that there are kids who are born overweight or obese who need help getting into the weight-management program,” said Dr. Steven M. G. Stovall, the director of pediatric nutrition services at Children’s Mercy Richmond Medical Center.
“And it’s because of the low nutrition available to these children that the rates of obesity are so high.”
In addition to having a child with a parent who is overweight or has been diagnosed with obesity, children also are more prone to have health problems.
“The majority of our pediatricians are concerned about the impact that obesity can have on the children, and that’s why we’re focusing on the obesity and the health issues,” said Stovand, who has worked at the hospital for more than 25 years.
“When the parents are overweight, there are consequences for the children that include higher rates of high blood pressure and diabetes, which are also health problems for children.”
Stovall’s work has made him an advocate for families who need a family doctor, and he believes that if he could be the only family dentist in the city, he would have a strong influence.
“It’s a very difficult job, especially when you’re a pediatrician, to get the attention of the parents and the children,” he said.
“There’s no question we have a lot of pressure on us.
We do need to be accountable.
It’s important to be as conscientious as possible, but also as caring.”
But some say that they are not satisfied with the level of support that the family dentist has received from the city.
“They don’t have the resources they need to do the best work they can,” said Mabel K. Meehan, who works at the Children’s Medical Center at Richmond Medical.
“The fact that they don’t even have an open space in the front office, that doesn’t help.”
When Meegan started working at the clinic in 2005, there were four family dentists in the Richmond area.
Today, there is just one.
The only dentists who have a space at the front of the clinic are for children.
“When I got here, I was very optimistic that I would have this place to work and my kids to have,” she said.
But that optimism has quickly turned to disappointment.
“I just feel like the money is going into the pockets of the dentists,” Meean said.
“So I’m not really getting any support from the dentist.”
The city’s dental department has received an average of $8,000 in state funding each year since 2005, and the average bill has been $5,600.
But the dentistry budget for the first six months of this year was $1,200, which is more than the entire budget for Richmond Public Schools.
“If we don’t do anything about this, it will only get worse,” said Gwyneth Pfeifer, the executive director of the Richmond Community Foundation.
“It’s not going to get any better.”
The Richmond Community Council is looking for a permanent dental center to help cover the cost of the $10,000 cost of installing the new dental suite.
The city has also committed $3 million for a program that provides financial support to the city to help pay for the construction of the new suite.
The program has been a priority of the city’s Mayor Levar Stoney, who is also a physician.
He recently visited the family dental center and met with Dr. Gwynan and other family dentistry specialists to help them plan for the long-term care of the aging patients who now have to travel all the way to the hospital to receive care.
“There is no doubt we need to have more dental facilities,” Stoney said.
He has previously said that he would like to see the family denticarians be able to work from home or take time off work to care for their children.
The current schedule requires that patients who cannot travel for at least a day are taken to a clinic.
But Meeahan says that the program is not yet ready.
“What we have to realize is that these kids are really sick,” she added.
“We have to get them out of the house.”