BMO Financial Group $1.5M Donation Funds Ground-breaking Research to Battle Pediatric Obesity

CALGARY, Oct. 15, 2013 /CNW/ - New research to help combat the growing obesity epidemic in Canadian children has received a big boost thanks to a generous $1.5 million donation from BMO Financial Group.

"The latest information from the World Health Organization tells us that close to one third of kids between 5 and 17 are classified as overweight or obese," said Petra O'Connell Acting VP, Obesity, Diabetes and Nutrition, Strategic Clinical Networks with Alberta Health Services. "It's imperative that we find new ways to help these children and families in order to prevent future health problems such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and type2 diabetes. We're grateful for community partners like BMO Financial Group who are supporting our researchers on their quest for those answers."

The donation establishes the BMO Financial Group Endowed Research Fund in Healthy Living. "We are very pleased to support this vital research," said Robert Hayes, Senior Vice President, Alberta & NWT Division, BMO Bank of Montreal. "Our hope is that this funding will pay dividends for years to come by helping kids live healthier, happier lives. BMO employees in Alberta are especially proud to know that our donation contributes to improving health care for our citizens, especially families. This is truly one of the most important gifts BMO has bestowed in the province to ensure a high quality of life for our growing population."

Dr. Raylene Reimer is the first recipient of the award generated by this fund. A professor in the Faculties of Kinesiology and Medicine at the University of Calgary (UofC) and investigator with the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute (a partner with AHS and UofC), Dr. Reimer has been investigating obesity for over 13 years. She has found that prebiotic fibre can help regulate appetite control and weight in adults, in part by promoting the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestine. "With this award from BMO, our team will now be able to determine if the same can be applied to children and incorporated into the guidelines for pediatric obesity management," said Dr. Reimer. "If so, this will be a huge breakthrough and offer practical solutions for kids struggling with weight issues here in Canada and around the world."

"Promotion of healthy active living is foundational to the research, teaching and service provision of the University of Calgary," said Dr. Ed McCauley, Vice President of Research at the University of Calgary. "The Faculties of Kinesiology and Medicine, Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute, Alberta Children's Hospital and Alberta Health Services all share a common mandate and extensive expertise related to the promotion of healthy living. Through the BMO Financial Group Endowed Research Fund in Healthy Living, there is an opportunity to unify, strengthen and significantly advance progress toward achieving healthy living and healthy body weights for children."

"We are very grateful to BMO for 24 years of generous support for the Alberta Children's Hospital during which time they have donated more than $2.5 million to help the kids and families we serve," said Saifa Koonar, CEO of the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation. "Their most recent gift will help our researchers make significant strides in this important area of study and ultimately help our children be healthier and more active."

About BMO Financial Group
Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly-diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $555 billion as at April 30, 2013, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.
www.bmo.com Twitter: @BMOmedia

The Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health (ACHRI)
ACHRI is a multi-disciplinary partnership Institute of the University of Calgary, Alberta Health Services and the Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation - the membership of which encompasses the Faculties of Arts, Engineering, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Nursing, Kinesiology, Science and Social Work.
http://research4kids.ucalgary.ca/

University of Calgary
The University of Calgary is a leading Canadian university located in the nation's most enterprising city. The university has a clear strategic direction to become one of Canada's top five research universities by 2016, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.'  For more information, visit ucalgary.ca.

Alberta Health Services
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.8 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

The Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation
The Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation is a founding partner of ACHRI, as well as the primary funder. The Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation raises funds for excellence in child health, research and family centred care. Through the generosity of donors, the Foundation provides funding for innovative programs, state-of-the-art equipment, advanced medical training and internationally-recognized pediatric research. www.childrenshospital.ab.ca

SOURCE: Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation

For further information:

Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation   
Jody Schwartz       
Sr. Associate, Communications     
Office: 403-955-8813      
Email: jschwartz@achf.com

BMO Financial Group
Laurie Grant
Senior Manager, Media & PR, Western Canada
Office: 604-665-7596
Email: laurie.grant@bmo.com 

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Alberta Children's Hospital Foundation

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