Gerber early childhood nutrition expert

William J. Klish, MD

Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics

“Infant nutrition has fascinated me since the beginning of my career. Unique to infants, they typically get all of their nutrition from a sole food source: breastfeeding or formula when breastfeeding is not an option. Understanding the reasons why infant formula or breastmilk alone meet the nutritional needs of a baby requires an understanding of the entire field of nutrition. As a pediatrician and gastroenterologist, I enjoy playing a role in moving nutrition knowledge forward, while helping parents nourish a healthier generation. Take, for example, obesity and the fact that the roots of adult obesity lie in infancy and childhood. Changing the way healthcare practitioners and the food industry counsel parents on healthy feeding practices is a key area of focus for me. If parents do not buy into the suggested changes for food or lifestyle, the obesity epidemic will continue.”

William J. Klish, MD, is Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He was the first person to be credentialed in pediatric gastroenterology by the American Board of Pediatrics and is credited with helping develop pediatric gastroenterology as a field.

Dr. Klish has held leadership positions in many organizations with a focus on early childhood health. He is a past president of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, a former Chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition, and a founding member of the Coalition for a Healthy and Active America. 

Dr. Klish has been the principal investigator in a number of controlled clinical trials, most recently in studies related to childhood obesity. He has appeared on ABC’s Nightline and helped develop pieces for the Discovery Channel. Dr. Klish also played a role in Morgan Spurlock’s popular documentary Super Size Me, in which he monitored Spurlock’s health as he binged on fast food. He has been quoted in the media many times and was the first to declare that, “If something is not done to control our obesity epidemic, children today will not live as long as their parents.” 

A recipient of numerous awards and distinctions, including the Shwachman Award from the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition, Dr. Klish also received a lifetime achievement award, the Murray Davidson Award, from the American Academy of Pediatrics. In 2004, he chaired the Texas Statewide Obesity Taskforce, which drafted a plan to combat obesity and reduce its prevalence throughout the state.

Dr. Klish graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, with a double major in chemistry and biology and received his MD at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His internship, residency, and fellowship were done at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas. He left Baylor to develop a program in pediatric gastroenterology at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, returning six years later to head and further develop Baylor’s pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition program. He stepped down as Head of the Division of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition several years ago to direct the obesity center that he developed at the Texas Children’s Hospital. As a former Professor Emeritus from Baylor College of Medicine, Dr. Klish continues to be active in teaching, lecturing, and spearheading obesity treatment initiatives.

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