Fighting Obesity Family Style with MEALS

Thomaseo Burton, PhD, and Webb Smith, PhD, of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center have developed a novel intervention in the home kitchen to address obesity. The intervention, called Multidisciplinary Engagement and Learning/Mindful Eating and Active Living (MEALS), combines mindfulness, cooking techniques and education to teach children and their caregivers how to make healthier meals and engage in mindful eating. This program is comprised of education, cooking and discussion sessions that are tailored to fit the largely African-American and under-resourced communities served by the Healthy Lifestyle Clinic.

This intervention is unique compared to traditional clinical management, which usually is comprised of counseling without an experiential component. MEALs also takes barriers to healthy eating, such as cost, time, wariness of new foods and access to ingredients, into consideration by using low-cost ingredients and familiar recipes.

Following the pilot program, the facilitators plan to assess the impact of the intervention by measuring participant characteristics (anthropometric measurements and vital signs), caregiver feedback (surveys) and youth feedback (surveys), with the hope of seeing meaningful improvement in participants’ health and well-being.


About Le Bonheur Children’s:

 Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., treats children through community programs, regional clinics and a 255-bed state-of-the-art hospital. Le Bonheur serves as a primary teaching affiliate for the University Tennessee Health Science Center and trains more than 350 pediatricians and specialists each year. Nationally recognized, Le Bonheur is ranked by U.S. News & World Report as a Best Children’s Hospital. 

 For more information, please call (901) 287-6030 or visit Connect with us at, or on Instagram at  lebonheurchildrens.


About University of Tennessee Health Science Center:

As Tennessee’s only public, statewide, academic health system, the mission of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center is to bring the benefits of the health sciences to the achievement and maintenance of human health through education, research, clinical care, and public service, with a focus on the citizens of Tennessee and the region. The main campus in Memphis includes six colleges: Dentistry, Graduate Health Sciences, Health Professions, Medicine, Nursing and Pharmacy. UTHSC also educates and trains medicine, pharmacy, and/or health professions students, as well as medical residents and fellows, at major sites in Knoxville, Chattanooga and Nashville. For more information, visit Find us on Facebook:, on Twitter: and on Instagram:

Posted: 10/22/20

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