New Paediatric Collaborating Centres for Obesity Management (COMs) Network Co-Chair Announced: Meet Professor Melania Manco

New Paediatric Collaborating Centres for Obesity Management (COMs) Network Co-Chair Announced: Meet Professor Melania Manco

Professor Manco, thank you for joining us! To introduce yourself to our COMs network, could you tell us a bit about your clinical background and your current research interests in paediatric obesity?

As an endocrinologist, I am passionate about deepening my understanding of the perinatal mechanisms that contribute to the severity of obesity and associated health complications in children, as well as the early onset of metabolic disturbances such as altered glucose metabolism. I strongly believe that clinical research has the potential to significantly enhance the quality of care patients receive.

We’d love to learn more about the COM you lead at Bambino Gesù Paediatric Hospital, IRCCS, in Italy. Can you share details about your team’s expertise and the services you offer families managing childhood obesity?

At our centre, we integrate clinical care with clinical research. Our teams of clinicians and clinical researchers work closely together, allowing us to enhance our clinical care offerings by enrolling patients in studies that provide more comprehensive diagnoses and intensive individual and family-based behavioural care. Consequently, we deliver age-specific, holistic, and personalized treatments, partly through web platforms that focus on lifestyle changes, physical activity, and cognitive training. Additionally, we offer a social training program for children aged 6 to 10 years, enabling them to engage in peer activities within an ecological environment. For patients with severe obesity, we provide access to residential programs or surgery options.

As the new Paediatric COMs Co-Chair, are there specific areas of paediatric obesity management you’d like to focus on?

I would like to facilitate the sharing of best practices among the EASO COMs, particularly practices that address the whole person within their social environment, focus on improving quality of life, and ensure comprehensive and holistic care. Recognizing obesity as a disease in young people is a crucial goal that still requires significant effort. Ensuring that young patients have access to effective treatments, including anti-obesity medications when lifestyle interventions fail, is fundamental to reducing the global burden of obesity. Additionally, I strongly believe that clinical research is pivotal in improving the quality of care, and I am committed to promoting networking for research collaboration.

Do you believe that the EASO COMs network can play a significant role in improving paediatric obesity management across Europe? What are your main goals and aspirations for the network during the next few years?

No doubt the EASO COMs network allows us to reach the critical mass needed to make effective changes in the way we address childhood obesity in Europe! In the coming years, we will work together to expand and strengthen this network of clinicians and researchers specializing in childhood and adolescent obesity across EASO member countries. This will facilitate the sharing of standards of care and promote groundbreaking research. We will promote activities and programs within the COMs network and beyond for healthcare providers, patients, scientists, and other relevant stakeholders. These initiatives will include a structured exchange program for COMs team members, teaching sessions, symposia, EASO Early Career Network (ECN) initiatives, and teaching school programs such as the EASO Masterclasses. In addition, we will identify key topics and areas of interest, preparing expert statements and fostering activities to raise awareness among stakeholders.

Thank you for speaking with us, Melania! We look forward to following your work to develop the COMs Network as the Paediatric COMs Co-Chair.