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Local Doctor’s Fight to End Childhood Obesity

Saint Anthony Hospital Pediatrician Dr. Alejandro Clavier is on a mission to eliminate the consumption of soft drinks and unhealthy foods in the homes of Latino families across the city. “We need to completely change our eating habits if we want to beat obesity,” said Dr. Clavier. Nearly half of all Latino children in the U.S. born after 2000 will go on to develop Type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes mostly due to physical inactivity and unhealthy eating. “Water should be a child’s best friend. There are no nutritional benefits in drinking sugary drinks. In order for children to grow to become healthy adults we need to break bad habits and get children drinking water or homemade juices with no sugar. Sugary drinks are detrimental to health.” Dr. Clavier shared his thoughts on the benefit of eating healthy and his passion for promoting the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Act.


Water is the healthiest option to giver to our children, instead of sugar drinks. Actually, water is the only option if we want our children to beat obesity and avoid diabetes. There are dangerous amounts of sugar in our drinks now that children are becoming increasingly sick and overweight. I tell my patients that if they can remember one thing remember to drink water. I understand that sometimes we give in to our children and give them what we feel will make them happy, but we need to be more active in our decision making process. We need to remember that nothing is worth sacrificing their health. Eliminate all the soft drinks or sugary juices in your house and replace them with bottles of water. By taking that first step you will see a noticeable difference.

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health


I support acts like the Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL) Act, which, through a penny per ounce tax on sugar drinks, is projected to raise $600 million in its first year with the money invested in supporting Medicaid and community wellness. Steps are being made, but we need to work together from all fronts, the policy side, community, schools to really combat obesity.

Physical Activity

What families can do together, aside from consuming water is exercise. You don’t necessarily have to join a gym to keep active. Cleaning the house together, walking up and down the stairs, playing games, even walking up and down your block keeps the heart pumping. The point is to not live a sedentary life. Remaining inactive while eating unhealthy is a dangerous combination, especially if diabetes runs in the family. Talk together as a family, cook together, move together, and talk with your physician on how you can take healthy measures to live long lives.

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Quieren un impuesto para “la salud”

Una ley impondría un impuesto a las bebidas azucaradas, en momentos que la diabetes y obesidad afectan a los latinos en Illinois

CHICAGO – En momentos que la diabetes y la obesidad afectan a los latinos más que a otros grupos, médicos y funcionarios de salud pública de Illinois abogan por una propuesta de ley que impondría un impuesto a las bebidas azucaradas.

“El exceso de azúcar en nuestra dieta causa muchos problemas de salud, la más común es la obesidad. Casi la mitad de los niños que vienen a nuestra clínica, un 48% tiene sobrepeso”, dijo el doctor Alejandro Clavier, pediatra y director médico de Esperanza Health Center.

Clavier indicó al diario Hoy que “en Estados Unidos dos tercios de los adultos tienen sobrepeso. El sobrepeso está directamente ligado a la diabetes, que puede traer consecuencias graves a la salud como daño renal, ceguera, daño en los pies; también está ligado a problemas del corazón, que es la causa de muerte número uno en Estados Unidos”.

Al hablar del azúcar en la dieta de los niños, Clavier explicó que “el exceso de azúcar en su dieta está asociado a la caries dental, la cual es la enfermedad crónica más común en los niños en Estados Unidos”.

Lo anterior lo indicó el doctor a días de que legisladores y funcionarios sanitarios presentaron la propuesta de ley Healthy Eating Active Living (HEAL), que impondría un impuesto de un centavo por onza a las bebidas azucaradas.

Clavier indicó que la propuesta apunta a dichas bebidas porque el 51% de los azúcares añadidos a la dieta en Estados Unidos es por bebidas azucaradas.

Se trata de las bebidas que contienen cinco gramos de azúcar por cada 12 onzas, y excluye la leche, los jugos 100% natural, las sodas de dieta y el agua, según el pediatra.

Las bebidas azucaradas son calorías líquidas, que se llaman calorías vacías, explicó Clavier. “Cuando los seres humanos consumimos calorías líquidas, nos sentimos menos satisfechos que cuando comemos una comida y eso ocasiona que comamos un poco más. Por eso nos enfocamos en esas bebidas”, indicó el doctor.

Según Clavier, un hombre adulto no debe consumir más de nueve cucharaditas de azúcar al día y para las mujeres el límite es de seis, y una soda de lata de 12 onzas ya tiene esa cantidad, mencionó.

“El cuerpo esta diseñado para conservar azúcares y no para desecharlos, por eso cuesta mucho trabajo deshacerse de ellos. Uno puede tomar una soda en unos minutos, pero necesitaría correr o caminar una milla para deshacerse de esa azúcar”, reiteró el doctor.

La propuesta, introducida el 19 de febrero, por la senadora estatal Mattie Hunter (D-3) y la representante estatal Robyn Gabel (D-18) generaría, de ser aprobada, unos $600 millones en su primer año.

Al introducir la propuesta, la senadora Hunter indicó que la legislación tendría un impacto en las comunidades de Illinois, especialmente en aquellas devastadas por la diabetes tipo 2 y las enfermedades coronarias.

“Los afroamericanos padecen las tasas de mortalidad más altas por enfermedades cardíacas en el estado y los latinos tienen el doble de probabilidades de desarrollar diabetes que los blancos”, declaró Hunter.

Según datos de quienes abogan por la propuesta, el último informe nacional sobre la obesidad encontró que el 29.9% de los hispanos en Illinois eran obesos. A nivel nacional, más del 22% de los niños hispanos son obesos, en comparación con el 14% de los niños blancos

Clavier indicó que el año pasado el impuesto se fijó en México y “como consecuencia disminuyó el consumo de bebidas azucaradas y aumentó el consumo de bebidas saludables. La idea es que con éste impuesto cambiemos el comportamiento”.

Para leer más de nuestra cobertura sobre salud, visite este enlace

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Pediatrician Dr. Alejandro Clavier working to fight obesity in youths

October 10, 2013 (CHICAGO) —
The Spanish word “esperanza” means “hope,” and as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, we meet a physician who left the hallowed halls of academia to work more closely with patients in the community.

Now the medical director at Esperanza Health Centers, he says “hope” is in great supply.

Dr. Alejandro Clavier emigrated from Venezuela to Chicago to study and to work. But after succeeding at both at UIC, something was still missing.

“I was happy at the university, but even though I was working in the community rotation, I wasn’t part of the community,” he said.

Dr. Clavier joined Esperanza Health Centers as medical director five years ago. He oversees two locations in Little Village and a new school-based clinic in Marquette Park. The pediatrician says working in the neighborhood has given him a new perspective on community needs.

“Forty-nine percent of our patients, our children, are overweight or obese,” he said. “We know about the obesity epidemic in the US, but being in the community and knowing that half our kids are overweight, that was a big. That was very important for me to know.

One way he is working to combat obesity is by hosting Girls on the Run. The clinic is the only non-school site in city. Girls on the Run is a national non-profit that teaches about nutrition and helps boost girls’ self-esteem while training them for a 5K.

“It felt really good and I tried my hardest,” said 10-year-old Izabel Carrizales.

“It’s a good program that’s not necessarily something you have to see the doctor for but they’ve incorporated it just for the overall well-being of the person,” said Ofellia Figueroa.

The clinic also has partnered with a local school to support a community garden and encourage healthy eating. Still, Dr. Clavier says delivering that message one-on-one in the exam room is his primary goal.

“I always tell my patients if they remember me when they are adults that I always told them just drink water. Don’t drink sodas and juices,” he said.

The Esperanza Health Centers is a non-profit organization that treats patients regardless of their ability to pay.

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Now Open

Vida Pediatrics is now open.
We have high standards and values that are put into practice every single day.

We believe great quality health care should be accessible to everyone. Our focus is helping families be as healthy as possible and avoid diseases that can be preventable. By teaching children the significance of taking care of their health as they make great choices we encourage the future of our community.
We take pride in providing personalized care to every patient, from 0-18 years old.

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Medical Home Network’s new model of coordinated care achieves ground-breaking results at Esperanza Health Centers

Care coordination technology & real-time alerts boost follow-up care by 130.4 %

CHICAGO December 11, 2014 Medical Home Network announced today the results of a data review of its model of care program for Illinois Medicaid patients as implemented at Esperanza Health Centers three primary care practice sites in Chicago’s Little Village neighborhood on the southwest side, which shows as high as a 130.4 percent increase in timely patient follow-up visits, 25 percent decrease in 30-day hospital readmissions, and a decrease in the overall cost of care for each patient since the introduction of the new care model in December of 2012.

According to the review, Illinois Medicaid patients who were a part of Medical Home Network’s program and visited their assigned primary care physician at Esperanza Health Centers within seven days after being discharged from the hospital or Emergency Department, increased from a 25.3 percent pre-implementation baseline to as high as 58.3 percent in certain months, with Esperanza’s first intervention year averaging a 47.2 percent follow-up rate. The monthly-high of 58.3 percent represents a 130.4 percent increase over the pre-implementation baseline. In addition, hospital readmissions within 30 days of patient discharge decreased from 11.2 percent to 8.4 percent post-intervention, a 25 percent reduction in readmissions.

We set an ambitious goal of reaching a 29 percent follow-up rate [with a primary care physician after hospital discharge] and in some months they have achieved more than 58.3 percent, more than double our goal,” said Cheryl Lulias, president and executive director of Medical Home Network. “These are incredible, ground-breaking results by the team at Esperanza. They adopted the new model of care and exhibited the flexibility to transform their practice, which is what produced those results.”

Read full Press Release.

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