Champion Provider Success Story: Dr. Razia Sheikh

Dr. Razia Sheikh
A Warrior Against Childhood Obesity

Over the 24 years that Dr. Razia Sheikh has been a pediatrician in Fresno County, she’s become increasingly troubled by the startling rise in obesity among her young patients. Dr. Sheikh says, “even though we grow much of the country’s fruits and vegetables, the obesity problem is worse in the Central Valley.” Day in and day out Dr. Sheikh sees children who are clinically obese.

She says, “I see kids with type 2 diabetes and 6- and 7-year-olds with high blood pressure and high cholesterol. We don’t live in a third-world country. This shouldn’t be happening.” She knows of what she speaks. Born in India, Dr. Sheikh moved to Pakistan when she was a child while her father went to medical school. Then the family moved to Nigeria, where he practiced family medicine.

Concerned about what she’s seeing, Dr. Sheikh works for positive changes beyond her office. She represented the California Medical Association on a high-level advisory group that helped create the Champion Provider Fellowship. The Fellowship’s mission is to give passionate doctors and dentists the training, resources and opportunities to advocate for policies, systems and environmental changes that transform communities into healthier places. Dr. Sheikh applied to become a Champion Provider Fellow herself and appreciates that through the program and writing for change workshops, she’s become a more polished communicator.

“As a Champion Provider Fellow, I feel it’s my job to bring the childhood obesity crisis to everyone’s attention — teachers, parents, other physicians, the media — and do what I can to help kids be healthier.”

Dr. Razia Sheikh, Fresno County Pediatrician

Today Dr. Sheikh uses the influence of her position to advocate for healthier communities. She testi ed before the Fresno Uni ed School Boardto successfully remove sweetened strawberry- avored milk from the school lunch program and participated in a press conference with Dr. Ken Bird, Fresno County’s health officer, about the importance of reducing obesity.

Recently she and Dr. Bird co-authored a column, “The Sweet and Bitter Truth About Sugary Drinks,” for the Fresno Unified School District’s newsletter. In the article she encourages parents to “protect their children by not serving sugary drinks in their homes, asking the school not to make them available on campus and asking your local merchants to not heavily advertise and market these products, and to make alternative healthful products readily available.”