Niagara University students and faculty were joined by community members for a Nov. 9 presentation on childhood obesity by Dr. Stephen Cook, '92.

A Nov. 9 presentation at Niagara University by Dr. Stephen Cook focused on how the identification of social determinants of health have evolved, and how they have impacted the health of children and families, with particular emphasis on childhood nutrition.

Dr. Cook, a 1992 NU alumnus and current associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester Medical Center, began his discussion by outlining how “toxic” or chronic stress, caused by a variety of biological and socials factors, can result in childhood obesity.  

For most of his public presentation, which was held in the Russell J. Salvatore Dining Commons, Dr. Cook concentrated on the detrimental impact of poverty on children’s health and the contribution of food security in improving a child’s wellness.  He presented innovative models for helping pediatricians screen and link populations in need of food assistance to local food resources. In particular, he discussed the work that he and his colleagues at the University of Rochester have done to create a survey tool to identify food insecurity in at-risk patient families. 

Dr. Cook also described how a pioneering use of an expanded care model, developed with partners in Colorado, has been helping low-income mothers and their children obtain food assistance. The system he has implemented in his pediatric practice represents an innovative partnership between healthcare providers and community service agencies, which promises to reduce food insecurity in at-risk children and families.

From left: Dr. William Cliff, Dr. Stephen Cook and Dr. Robert Greene.

From left: Dr. William Cliff, Dr. Stephen Cook and Dr. Robert Greene.

Dr. Cook is dual trained in pediatric and adult internal medicine. He holds a B.S. in biology from Niagara University, an M.D. from SUNY Buffalo and an M.P.H. from the University of Rochester. After completing his residency and chief resident year in Buffalo, he joined the Golisano Children’s Hospital at the URMC in 2001. He completed an academic pediatric fellowship there, during which time he focused his research and clinical aspects on nutrition, physical activity, obesity and the metabolic complications that arise. He currently sees patients as part of the general pediatric practice at Strong Memorial Hospital, where he also teaches medical student and residents.

Dr. Cook’s address was part of Niagara University’s John J. Hughes, ’67, M.D. Endowed Lectureship, which recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the health sciences or healthcare. Initiated by an endowment created by the late Dr. John Hughes, ’67, an accomplished radiologist, the series provides an academic forum for the university community, area healthcare professionals and members of the general public to address topics of importance in contemporary healthcare.

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