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It's her job to keep kids healthy

Dr. Amy Porter believes that what happens after kids leave her office is important.

November 16, 2011|By Sara Cardine
  • Amy Porter, M.D., F.A.A.P., Dept. of Pediatrics, in her Southern California Permamente Medical Group office in Pasadena on Tuesday, November 15, 2011. Dr. Porter met First Lady Michelle Obama this past Summer. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
Amy Porter, M.D., F.A.A.P., Dept. of Pediatrics, in her…

When Amy Porter began her career as a pediatrician some 20 years ago, it was rare to see children whose weight posed a threat to their health and well-being. But by the late 1990s, the La Cañada resident began to notice children were presenting health problems typically seen only in adults — high blood pressure, diabetes and even weak knee joints. Today, 20% to 30% of all her patients are overweight or obese.

“After you get a certain number of them, you can’t just send them to a specialist. You need to know what to do,” she says.

That’s when Porter, who worked at Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park, became part of an effort to prevent juvenile diabetes throughout Southern California. When she wasn’t seeing patients, she was helping lead awareness campaigns designed to help professionals identify, track and advise at-risk children. Today, she is the lead physician in Kaiser’s Pediatric Weight Management program.

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For nearly a decade, Porter has worked passionately to raise prevention and awareness among patients and their families. This summer, her work as a physician on the California Freshworks Fund — a project that has raised $200 million to create fresh-food options in underserved communities — earned her an invitation to the White House from First Lady Michelle Obama. She recalls the July visit as a highlight of her career.

The meeting was part of Obama’s own Let’s Move! campaign, a nationwide program that aims to significantly diminish childhood obesity within a single generation. Porter says she had no idea the visit would include a face-to-face meeting with Obama herself.

“They wanted a physician to represent Kaiser, and because I’d worked with some of these programs, I got invited to go,” Porter says. “When I was in the White House, there was an intern with a list calling out names. She said ‘Dr. Porter.’ As it turns out, these were the people who were actually going to meet [the first lady].”

Porter sat in the front row of chairs as Obama addressed the crowd of 20 people. She took pictures with her cell phone to send to her son Gorin, 22, and 21-year-old daughter Katie. She didn’t know then she would receive an official White House photo of her and the First Lady to commemorate the occasion.

Although the trip was an unforgettable moment in Porter’s professional life, her work has touched the lives of countless Kaiser patients.

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