May 30, 2024

Charmaine Chan, DO

Family Doc Takes Aim at Obesity among Navajo Teens

Charmain Chan, DO, Family Medicine, Northern Navajo Medical Center
March 2010

In February, we asked Clinician & Community readers to tell us what they are doing to tackle the problem of childhood obesity. Here, Charmaine Chan, DO, who works at an IHS site and at a school-based health center in Shiprock, NM, reports on her efforts among Navajo teens in Shiprock, NM.

“We started a Wellness Group with Navajo adolescents, based on the theories about chronic disease management support groups. Most of the kids in the group have been seen for pregnancy or hypertension or they are obese. We asked the students for wellness topics they would like to discuss and activities that they would like to do that they have never done before.”

Chan says they have organized two 45-min lunchtime lecture/discussion sessions per month with one half-day activity per month for the teenage participants. Lecture topics have included substance abuse, breast cancer, diabetes, anger management and H1N1, among others. Activities have included snowshoeing, swimming, riding therapy and a basketball game with the docs in the hospital. Participants can only attend these half-day day activities if they pass their classes with at least a C.

Since starting the group, Chan reports that all 17 students have passed their classes. And, she says, “They even look forward to their half-day activities as a way not only to try new sports, but also as stress relief. ” With receipt of grant funding, Chan  says the students will take on leadership roles at their school, introducing healthy foods and some type of exercise activity to the entire school.