Global Education Forum: UGA students and Athens residents with disabilities exercise


Obesity Initiative at UGA

This is post 2 of 5 regarding the 75th Annual Global Education Forum at the University of Georgia on April 2, 2013. Check the adjacent posts for more coverage.

This year’s forum theme was Obesity, Food Security, and Nutrition in Global Context.

During the final session, the theme focused on issues and perspectives on obesity in schools and society. Kinesiology Professor Kevin McCully spoke about “reducing obesity in people with disabilities by partnering the university with the community.”

McCully explained how people with disabilities are often twice as sedentary and engage in physical activity half as often, with about 12 percent of those with disabilities meeting guidelines for physical activity and 26 percent of them having zero physical activity. IN addition, about 57 percent of those with disabilities are overweight (BMI higher than 30), and 48 percent are obese.

This means high health care costs, low access to health care, and unmet health care needs.

At UGA last summer, McCully’s undergraduate students teamed with disabled residents in the Athens area to start an exercise class. They’ve continued the class throughout the year and are scheduled for this summer and next fall as well.

“The undergraduates benefit from this as much as the participants do,” he said.

The challenges include transportation for the participants, motivation for those with intellectual disabilities, and family support related to obesity and disability.

“It takes time before someone understands or gets fired up about getting healthier,” McCully said.