Original Publication
Open Access

Preventing Obesity in Patients through Community Health Prevention Programs

Published: February 3, 2014 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9687

Included in this publication:

  • JM Public PBL Case Instructor's Guide.docx
  • JM Public PBL case.pdf

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Like many underserved and low socio-economic urban neighborhoods, the city of Richmond, CA faces several health-related problems, including childhood obesity, pollution and low air quality, gang violence, high unemployment, and lack of access to needed healthcare services, including substance abuse and mental health resources. This "public health oriented" Problem Based Learning (PBL) case uses the framework of a new primary care clinician evaluating a child with asthma and obesity to consider "upstream" interventions that physicians might use to indirectly improve the health of the neighborhood by working with community health organizations to prevent and/or minimize health disparities. Having a Public Health understanding such as the associated behavioral and social risk factors for obesity can help in improving the health of patients. The geographic specifics of this case are easily modifiable to represent local urban or rural underserved neighborhoods.

This PBL case has been used in a predominately PBL-based pre-clerkship medical school curriculum for several years. This work conveys that providing primary care through a "Public Health lens" is a significant benefit to treating patients with certain diseases, especially chronic diseases such as obesity and asthma. The purpose of this work is to make medical students aware of the multiple "upstream" ways they could improve the health of patients.

Educational Objectives

  1. To assess the health status of obese pediatric patients using available data (e.g. public health surveillance data, vital statistics, registries, surveys, electronic health records and health plan claims data).
  2. To discuss the role of socioeconomic, environmental, cultural, and other population-level determinants of health on the health status and health care of individuals in an urban-underserved population.
  3. To integrate emerging information on individuals’ biologic and genetic risk with population-level factors when deciding upon prevention and treatment options in a pediatric obese population.
  4. To appraise the quality of the evidence of peer reviewed medical and public health literature and its implications at patient- and population- levels in a pediatric obese population.
  5. To apply primary and secondary prevention strategies that improve the health of individuals in an urban-underserved population.
  6. To identify community assets and resources to improve the health of individuals in an urban-underserved population.
  7. To explain how community engagement strategies may be used to improve the health of an urban-underserved population and to contribute to the reduction of health disparities.
  8. To learn how to participate in urban-underserved population health improvement strategies (e.g. systems and policy advocacy, program or policy development or other community-based interventions).
  9. To discuss the functions of public health systems including those that require or benefit from the contribution of clinicians, such as public health surveillance, preparedness and prevention of chronic conditions.
  10. To describe the organization and financing of the US health care system and their effects on access, utilization, and quality of care for individuals in an urban-underserved population.
  11. To discuss the ethical implications of health care resource allocation and emerging technologies on population health.

Author Information

  • Umair Jamal: University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine
  • Cora Hoover: University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine
  • Candice Wong: University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine
  • Amin Azzam: University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine

None to report.

None to report.


Jamal U, Hoover C, Wong C, Azzam A. Preventing obesity in patients through community health prevention programs. MedEdPORTAL. 2014;10:9687. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9687