Category: Obesity & Exercise

UGA kinesiology professors need UGA employees for focus group study


Obesity & Exercise, Obesity Initiative at UGA

UGA kinesiologyUGA Employees Needed for a Research Study Examining Physical Activity, Proper Nutrition, and Weight Management Barriers

This comes from the UGA kinesiology department. Please participate if you can!

Male and female UGA employees are needed for a focus group examining employees’ perceptions of physical activity, proper nutrition, and weight management on the UGA campus.  The focus group will be performed at the Department of Kinesiology at the University of Georgia.

Participants will be asked to participate in a focus group and will be asked questions regarding one’s barriers and benefits to physical activity, proper nutrition, and weight management.  Participants will also be asked to complete body measurements (height, weight, and waist circumferences) along with a health history questionnaire.

We’d love to have the results inform UGA policy/employee health programs,” said Bhibha Das, who is conducting the research.

Participants can earn a free exercise program, free diet analysis, or free body composition assessment.  A free exercise program, diet analysis, and body composition assessment will be given out for each focus group (6 total of each). In each focus group, there will be a drawing in which each participant has equal chance of receiving their choice of one of the following incentives: a free exercise program, a free diet analysis, or free body composition assessment. Participation in the research is not required in order to enter the drawing.

If you are interested in participating, please contact Bhibha Das: or 706-688-9297

Principal Investigator: Ellen M. Evans, PhD,

OI in the news: Participants needed for study on exercise habits


Obesity & Exercise, Obesity in the News, Obesity Initiative at UGA

Here’s another highlight of the exercise study being conducted by kinesiology professor Michael Schmidt and others. Check out today’s feature in Columns:

People trying to lose weight through increasing exercise in their daily routines often drop the new habit when they don’t see any changes on the scale.

Several UGA researchers believe this happens because people unconsciously compensate by increasing their food intake or decreasing physical activity outside of their new exercise regimen.

“When you look at some of these studies, people are only losing 30 percent of what you’d expect,” said Michael Schmidt, an assistant professor of  kinesiology  in the College of Education. “The other part is that there tends to be variability across individuals. Some lose a good bit of weight, others lose a little and others go in the opposite direction.”

Funded by a $408,375 federal grant over two years from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Schmidt and three other UGA professors are investigating why this happens. They’re seeking 120 women between the ages of 25-45 to participate in a walking study that will monitor nutrition and physical activity.

“People may respond to exercise by eating more as a reward, and many don’t have a good sense of the calories being burned versus how much they can ingest. It’s much easier to ingest calories than burn them,” said Schmidt, the study’s principal investigator.

OI in the News: UGA researchers study diets and why people don’t lose more


Obesity & Exercise, Obesity in the News

Back at it. Check my story in Georgia Health News about research being done by the Obesity & Exercise team about diets and exercise. Do compensatory behaviors make a difference?

The UGA researchers, led by Michael Schmidt, believe many dieters give up their new, healthier routines of eating right and exercising when they don’t see results on the scale.

But there’s more to it than that. The researchers think the needle on the scale may be slower to drop because people unconsciously compensate for added exercise by increasing their food intake, or by decreasing their physical activity outside their new exercise regimen.

Now the researchers are putting that theory to the test.

“People don’t lose as much as you’d expect them to based on the calories burned [during exercise]. They’re only losing 30 percent of what you’d expect,” said Schmidt, who is an assistant professor of kinesiology.

Schmidt and three other UGA professors are focusing on the compensatory behaviors, such as eating more after exercising, that might prevent the simple formula “eat right and exercise” from working.

Obesity in the News: Advice from UGA professors and Dr. Oz


Obesity & Exercise, Obesity in the News, Obesity Initiative at UGA, Obesity Studies

Obesity is popping up in daily conversation, and it’s in the news each day. Just from the Athens Banner-Herald alone, there are three pieces related to physical activity and obesity.

Here’s an editorial from Marsha Davis, UGA professor and assistant dean for outreach and community engagement at the College of Public Health.

She points out the lessons learned from HBO’s “Weight of the Nation,” which she spoke about as part of a screening and panel at Tate Theater last week. Environment does matter.

In order to win, sometimes you have to lose.

That’s the lesson from the acclaimed documentary “The Weight of the Nation.” Chronicling the nation’s battle with obesity, the four-part documentary from HBO is the centerpiece of a broader public health campaign aimed at turning the tide in this ongoing struggle.

One of the points made in the documentary that resonated deeply with me — and something I’ve witnessed during my years working at the University of Georgia’s College of Public Health — is the fundamental role that environment and surroundings have on our health. There is no doubt that individual choices with regard to eating better and opting for a more physically active lifestyle are crucial to success, but the influence of one’s environment only adds to the complexity of the obesity challenge.

Then we have some advice from Dr. Oz about the obesity–exercise–depression–diabetes combos. Essentially, if you want to solve your health problems, work it out! Here’s a sample:

I have seasonal affective disorder, and before I get socked by winter depression, tell me: What’s the best way to deal with it? Help!

— Malcolm H., Minneapolis

There are several ways for you to deal with SAD (seasonal affective disorder). We strongly recommend the triumvirate of: exercising outside (a brisk walk at least 20 minutes a day), light therapy (go to for different light therapy options — light boxes, dawn simulators, light visors) and supplemental vitamin D-3.

My doc says I’m headed for type 2 diabetes if I don’t do something to get in shape. I don’t mind the gym, so what’s the best plan? 

— Fred G., Buffalo, N.Y.

We’re glad you asked, Fred. Turns out that what you do at the gym can revolutionize your future, preventing everything from heart attack to kidney failure and blindness — just a few of the complications associated with diabetes. (And that’s especially true if you combine it with upgrades to your overall lifestyle.)


UGA classes continue to help people with disabilities fight obesity


Functional Fitness, Disability & Environment, Obesity & Exercise

Check out this video from Grady Newsource posted on Monday.

Kevin McCully and his students are working each semester to help local people with disabilities to fight obesity and gain better movement.

His classes are particularly nice for showing the Obesity Initiative at work visually. This is one of a number of videos about his fitness class for individuals with disabilities, such as this one produced by James Hataway earlier this fall. I’m hoping to create a video about a dance class his students are holding for disabled students.

UGA nutrition student: Website weight loss works


Food Ingredients & Obesity, Obesity & Exercise, Obesity Initiative at UGA

Weight management interventions can work online, one University of Georgia student reported.

During presentations this fall, students in nutrition professor Mary Ann Johnson’s class are talking about effective strategies related to reducing obesity.

Courtney Still, a doctoral student of nutrition, spoke about the “effects of web-based lifestyle modification programs on weight loss.”

Because weight loss programs tend to be expensive and take up time, Still wanted to investigate whether online-only or hybrid web/in-person programs would work.

“There’s often a lack of time, training and expertise for some people,” she said. “With the web, you don’t have to worry as much about expense, scheduling and personnel.”

Still spoke about several case studies but found that web use generally aided weight loss, even if in small amounts.

“There are still limitations because in some studies, dietary intake was not measured and these results were only short-term weight loss,” Still said. “This this may be an excellent way to provide service if online programs included personalized information and increased intensity over time to help with long-term weight loss.”


  • Courtney Still earned a bachelor’s in dietetics and consumer foods at the University of Georgia in 2010 and a master’s in foods and nutrition in 2012. Her research includes nutrition education, community intervention, and childhood obesity. Other interests include public health and epidemiology.


UGA walking study seeks women ages 25-45


Obesity & Exercise, Obesity Initiative at UGA

The Body Composition and Metabolism Lab in the University of Georgia’s Department of Kinesiology is seeking women ages 25 to 45 for a supervised walking study.

The 9-week study will examine the behavioral changes that occur in response to a structured exercise program.  Participants will receive a free diet and body composition assessment as well as monetary compensation.

  • For more details, contact Dr. Michael Schmidt, who is part of the UGA Obesity Initiative’s Obesity & Exercise team, at or 706-542-6872.


Walking in the U.S. increased during past 5 years, CDC reports


Obesity & Exercise, Obesity Initiative at UGA

Adults are walking more than ever, but they need to keep it up, the CDC released in a report this month.

The percentage of adults who walk for at least 10 minutes at a time increased from 55.7 percent in 2005 to 62.0 percent in 2010, according to the report.

To keep the numbers up, communities should give access to place for physical activity or use land use policies that “emphasize mixed-use communities and pedestrian-friendly streets,” the report reads.

“The impact of these strategies on both walking and physical activity should be monitored systematically at the national, state, and local levels,” according to the Vital Signs report. “Public health efforts to promote walking as a way to meet physical activity guidelines can help improve the health of U.S. residents.”

Walking is the most commonly reported physical activity among U.S. adults overall, according to CDC statistics.

Other tips from the report:

  • Regular physical activity provides many health benefits; however, approximately half of all adults do not get the recommended amount of physical activity and about one third report no physical activity.
  • Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week. Walkers are approximately three times more likely than non-walkers to meet this guideline.

UGA professor: Southern diet, quick meals connected to Georgia’s high obesity


Food Ingredients & Obesity, Obesity & Exercise, Obesity Initiative at UGA, Obesity Studies

As analysts begin to study the CDC’s recent release of obesity rankings, experts are discussing whether nutrition, exercise, or environment are to blame for the nation’s increasingly high rate of overweight adults and children.

Georgia Public Broadcasting turned to Mary Ann Johnson, one of UGA’s nutrition professors, for thoughts about the new statistics.

From the GPB story:

Mary Ann Johnson, a nutrition professor with the University of Georgia’s Obesity initiative, says they are concerned.

“65 percent of adults in Georgia are either overweight or obese, with about a third who are obese,” she says.

She says, “We’re concerned it could be the traditional southern diet. But it may just be our focus on quicker meals and really losing sight of where are the calories coming from in our food.”

CBS News also contacted Johnson to discuss First Lady Michelle Obama’s criticism of Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas “splurg[ing] on an Egg McMuffin at McDonald’s” after winning.

Mary Ann Johnson, a professor of Food and Nutrition at UGA, told CBS Atlanta that Douglas’ choice of McDonald’s meal was actually rather healthy.

“[The sandwich] was a good choice for an athlete who burns thousands of calories a day,” she noted. “She is also still growing as a young woman – she has a lot of high-calorie and high-protein needs.”

But Douglas stands as an important role model for children, Johnson told CBS.

“Someone like Gabby Douglas has the power to influence millions of Americans,” she said. “I’m excited to see her sharing her diet, and I’m hoping she really takes a lead on helping all Americans eat healthier.”

Also from the story:

In regards to helping guide all Americans toward better, overall healthier choices, both Johnson and Crawley felt that McDonald’s has taken strides away from its negative stereotype.

“McDonald’s is making a very good effort into providing healthier options,” Johnson said, adding that the company’s trend of providing calorie counts for its menu items is helpful. “People really just don’t know the calorie content of foods off the tops of their heads – this way, it’s up to the consumer to make informed food choices.”

Inactivity on the Rise Worldwide, with Deadly Results


Obesity & Exercise, Obesity Initiative at UGA

A recent study shows inactivity is on the rise, not just in the U.S., but around the globe. According to the study published in The Lancet, about a third of  the world’s adults  are almost completely sedentary, that is, they do not meet the minimum recommendation of 150 minutes of walking or other moderate activity per week, or about 20 minutes a day. Teenagers are worse: More than 80 percent of young people ages 13 to 15 worldwide are not getting the hour a day of vigorous exercise recommended for their age group. Although most prevalent in the U.S. and Europe, this phenomenon is on the rise worldwide.

A separate study, also published in The Lancet, calculated how much disease results from inactivity, and how many lives could be saved if inactivity were decreased, that is, if people exercised more.  The authors calculated that about 5.3 million people a year die from diseases tied to physical inactivity — more than the 5.1 million who die annually from smoking.