Category: Communication Strategies for Obesity Management

Obesity is community issue, requires policy changes, UGA professors say


Communication Strategies for Obesity Management, Obesity Policy, Obesity trends

Obesity is now so prevalent that it must be addressed as a social and political responsibility, not just an individual issue, three University of Georgia professors agree.

The professors were part of a panel discussion following a screening of part of HBO’s “Weight of the Nation” at the Tate Theater on Wednesday evening.

The Georgia Public Health Training Center and National Association of Chronic Disease Directors teamed up to present the documentary.

“It’s important not to blame the individual but to work as a community — all the places we live, work, and play — to support each other to find community-drive solutions,” said Marsha Davis, an associate professor of health promotion and behavior. “People in Athens live in food deserts, and we need to continue to assure that people have access and can afford fresh produce.”

Obesity has reached crisis levels, noted Karen Hilyard, an assistant professor of health promotion and behavior with experience in health communication.

“We need a wake-up call. I can’t believe we’re working on any other issue in public health right now because of its wide-reaching impact across all areas,” she said. “This problem fits the definition of a crisis, but why aren’t more people outraged?”

Unlike a natural disaster, obesity and its long-term risks are perceived differently, she explained. But we need to change the way we talk about obesity.

“We need to re-frame the issue from one of personal responsibility to one that’s a community issue. It affects not just our health but our economy, health care costs, and even national security,” Hilyard said. “We can’t expect to survive as a country if we have a crippled workforce that can’t handle physically demanding jobs. Policymakers must consider what obesity means for the future of our country.”

Ultimately, it starts with this generation, added Connie Crawley, a registered dietician and Cooperative Extension associate.

“As a young person in your 20s, you’re probably at your lowest weight for the rest of your life,” she said. “You’re in the prime situation to make decisions now that will influence your future weight and your future family.”

From the American Academy of Pediatrics Prevention Plus recommendations, Crawley listed several goals to reduce obesity in America:

  • Screen time: Remove screens (TV, video games, computers) from bedrooms and reduce viewing time to two hours per day.
  • Sugary drinks: Take them out of your diet! This includes 100% juice, energy drinks, and sports drinks.
  • Physical activity: Some sort of activity 60 minutes per day. It doesn’t have to be all at once or planned exercise.
  • Sleep: Newest on the block of recommendations, sleep helps your metabolism and reduces your chances of making poor decisions about eating and activity when tired. Plus, you’ll eat more and drink caffeine to stay awake.
  • Breakfast: Eat it. It increases your metabolism after fasting while you sleep. For children, however, we must ensure they are not eating breakfast both at home and at school.
  • Eating at home: Do this 5-6 days per week. Fewer Americans have decent cooking skills. But if we can educate children and adults how to make a few healthy, simple meals, it’ll make all the difference.

“Even if families or individuals select one to work on each year, they’d be a different person in six years,” Crawley said. “These key points will seriously impact your long-term health. You are as much at risk as the people in the film.”

The film is available at

UGA students use flash mob to talk about obesity


Communication Strategies for Obesity Management, Obesity Initiative at UGA

More than 200 University of Georgia students participated in a flash-mob workout on Herty Field to start the conversation about obesity in the state.

Professor Scott Shamp, director of the New Media Institute at the university, coordinated the event as part of the University’s Obesity Initiative started earlier this year. As a member of the initiative’s Persuasive Communication Strategies team, Shamp wanted to incorporate media and teaching people how to make healthy decisions about exercise and lifestyle.

Shamp sent a Twitter message to 250 students in his media class at 2 p.m. to meet for the workout, and the mob gathered 30 minutes later, where they followed fitness instructors from Workout Warriors LLC.

He also invited faculty and staff on the Persuasive Communication Strategies group to join by e-mail:

“I have a fun thing for you to see if you are interested. This semester in my 250 student lecture class (NMIX2020 Intro to New Media), the students are working on ways to use technology to help people make good health behavior decisions. All semester long we have been talking about obesity and ways to use tech to fight it … This should be a hoot! Come and workout with us if you want.”

Check out the video on the Athens Banner-Herald website.

Weight of the Nation screening and discussion at UGA


Communication Strategies for Obesity Management, Obesity Initiative at UGA, University of Georgia

University of Georgia professors and students will meet next week to discuss weight and obesity.

They’re screening HBO’s Weight of the Nation at the Tate Theater at 6 p.m. and holding a discussion at 7 p.m.

The Georgia Public Health Training Center and National Association of Chronic Disease Directors are teaming up to present the documentary.

The film is available at

Obesity in the news – it’s a daily obsession


Communication Strategies for Obesity Management, Obesity Initiative at UGA, Obesity Studies

Our fat is killing us.

In the last week, we’ve learned it’s bad for sperm, it affects breast cancer recovery, it speeds up mental decline, and it changes our social lives.

Just today, I read stories about obesity in our pets and whether artificial light is partially to blame for our obesity.

Obesity is covered by news publications daily, and it’s not just hype. The CDC released new statistics this month that 1 in 5 Americans — and 1 in 3 children — are obese, which brings a host of health problems that total $2.4 billion in Georgia alone.

It’s a problem that cuts across all demographics in every state, and isn’t going away. It’s becoming a part of the state’s everyday conversation.

Obesity is now an obsession.

But maybe that’s not entirely negative. Sites such as are popping up to promote physical, emotional and mental health. As part of their work environment, the team exercises, eats healthy, and follows the tips they dish out on the site.

Now that’s a cool trend. Can we incorporate it into America’s mindset?

— Carolyn Crist is a health and medical journalism graduate student at the University of Georgia, focusing on the Obesity Initiative and what innovative professors and researchers are doing to address the nationwide problem. I’ll post cool links about national obesity from time to time, in addition to regular UGA and Georgia-related obesity posts.