‘Schools offer a great opportunity to educate our children about nutrition.’
Meet Doctor Nose: Last year Dr. Rutu Ezhuthachan and her pediatric staff earned a Public Health Hero Award from the Southern Nevada Health District for getting inside kids’ heads — their noses, that is. It was a project in which her patients’ little noses were swabbed every week at her office to give real-time information to providers across the valley. “It helps us determine when H1N1 is starting, so other doctors in the community know what’s walking through their doors.” All over the world: Born 37 years ago in Bombay, India, Ezhuthachan and her family immigrated to New York then settled in Troy, Michigan. After med school in St. Maarten (in the Caribbean), she did her residency in Detroit before establishing her Vegas practice in ’03. No pain, no gain: Ezhuthachan received two Silver Syringe awards (from the Southern Nevada Immunization Coalition and Nevada Covering Kids and Families) in recent years for her efforts in childhood immunization. “Immunizing kids also protects the health of our community, especially those who for medical reasons can’t be vaccinated,” she says. Bulge battler: She created a summer camp program with the YMCA that teaches pre-teens about nutrition and activity; camp kids showed measured health improvements after just six weeks. She’s often invited to speak at conferences on pediatric obesity, a disorder she says qualifies as an epidemic. “Our society has created an instant-gratification culture. With two working parents, it’s harder to sit down together. And let’s face it: The economy makes it challenging for parents to eat healthy.” Still, Ezhuthachan insists we can do even more in schools to educate and incorporate nutrition into the curriculum. No Mac attacks? A single working mom, she packs her two kids’ junk-free lunches every morning. She enjoys Big Macs as much as anyone, but there’s a catch. “My kids and I walk three miles to the nearest McDonald’s,” she laughs.