Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
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About the Nashville Collaborative and the GROW trial

The Nashville Collaborative, a partnership between Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and Metro Nashville Parks and Recreation to improve child health, began in 2008.

The GROW trial, the largest of the Collaborative’s projects, is an effort to reduce childhood obesity through a rigorously designed intervention that brings parent-preschool child pairs together to learn either about healthy growth or healthy development focused on school readiness and success. It had a two-year start-up and pilot phase, and is now active in a large, randomized and controlled five-year trial at two Metro community centers—East Park and Coleman Park.

Both Latino and African-American children are about twice as likely to be obese by age 5 as are Caucasian children. The GROW study has been designed for minority preschoolers because evidence shows weight trajectories are set early in life; so early prevention is critical. If a child is overweight or obese by age 8, they are five times more likely to stay that way as an adolescent.

Eligible families will be randomly assigned to participate in either a healthy growth or healthy childhood development for school success course of learning. Both groups will build sustainable health habits at critical periods of childhood development over a three-year period.

Eligible participant pairs must meet the following criteria:

  • A Spanish- or English-speaking parent with one 3-to-5-year-old child who can participate over a three-year period;
  • The family should live or participate in weekly activities within a five-mile radius of either East Park Community Center or Coleman Park Community Center;
  • The child should have a body mass index (BMI) that is greater than the 50th percentile but less than 95th percentile among peers in their age group.

For more information on registering for the GROW trial, please call (615) 343-6441.

To learn more about the Nashville Collaborative and to watch a video, visit

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Meet Braden

At 6 feet 5 inches, Braden Parsons was made to play basketball. Sidelined temporarily by hydrocephalus, an innovative neurosurgery performed at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt helped him get back on the court.

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