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Varsha Mullangi

Mrs. McMennamy
Capstone Period 5
15 September 2016
Track Hours 1-8 Reflection
For my first eight track hours, I shadowed Dr. Disha Saharia on June 13th and June 20th for four
hours each day. Dr. Saharia is a general pediatrician and an honorary associate professor of
Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine. I was able to shadow Dr. Saharia at her Texas Family
Pediatric Group clinic in Missouri City. My time there served as an invaluable experience, as I
gained a lot of information both pertaining to my topic and beyond. My topic is nutritional
disorders among adolescents, which includes both eating disorders and obesity. And, while I
wasnt able to encounter any patients with eating disorders, I was able to learn much about my
latter subtopic, obesity.
One of the first things I learned from Dr. Saharia was about Body Mass Index (BMI), and
how to interpret a growth chart. These graphs are very important when it comes to tracking a
childs development, especially when it comes to overweight and obese patients. For Body Mass
Index, the basic calculation is done by dividing someones weight in kilograms by their height in
meters squared. In standard units, this is instead their weight in pounds multiplied by 703, which
is then divided by the patient's height in inches squared. Although it is not specifically a tool to
measure body fat, research has shown that a high Body Mass Index can be suggestive of the
patient being overweight or obese. After Body Mass Index is calculated, it is plotted on a growth
chart, which has BMI values on the ordinate, or the y-axis, and different ages going across the
abscissa, or x-axis. This growth chart allows doctors to place patients in a growth percentile,
which is essentially the patients BMI compared to other kids their age across a national
spectrum.
Because growth charts are merely a diagnostic tool and do not provide substantial
evidence to label a patient as obese, Dr. Saharia also explained other factors and symptoms
relating to overweight patients. For example, acanthosis nigricans is another tool that is often
times indicative of an overweight patient, and is marked by thick skin that is darker in coloration
behind the neck. This is caused by insulin resistance in the body and can also correlate to
diabetes, a common condition when examining obese patients. The reason this experience was
particularly helpful was because it was more than just hearing about the conditions and
symptoms. Rather, Dr. Saharia would allow me to observe her in patient rooms while she
consulted with patients and their families. Then, after seeing this interaction, she would ask for
my thoughts and observations, while also pointing out things that I missed, answering questions,

and providing me with new information regarding my topic. This was important because it
helped me make real-life connections between reading about my topic and actually seeing
patients experiencing these problems and how a doctor diagnoses and effectively deals with
them. This also influenced my research greatly, as then my topic was only on eating disorders.
However, after seeing how common of an occurrence obesity was among younger people, it
made me interested in why this was so, and prompted me to expand my topic to nutritional
disorders among adolescents.