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.

Will half of America be obese in 20 years?


Obesity in the News, Obesity trends

That’s what studies are showing. CDC stats in 2011 already showed 20.7 percent obesity in Colorado to 34.9 percent in Mississippi, so it’s probably not far off the mark.

Breaking news posted by the Associated Press, featured in the Athens Banner-Herald:

A new report forecasts a sharp rise in obesity in every American state over the next 20 years, though Georgia is projected to remain in the middle of the pack.

The research by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation estimates that if current trends continue, 13 states would have obesity rates higher than 60 percent by 2030; 39 states would have rates topping 50 percent; and every state would exceed 40 percent.

In Georgia, the analysis found that 53.9 percent of adults would be obese, up from 28 percent now. Mississippi would remain the fattest state, with two-thirds of adults being obese. Colorado would be thinnest at 44 percent.

The American Council on Science and Health looked at the report and also found a correlation between fruit/veggie consumption and physical activity with obesity, which makes sense:

Seven of the 10 states with the highest percentage of obese residents were in the bottom tier for fruit and vegetable consumption. In fact, Mississippi (34.9 percent), Louisiana (33.4 percent), and West Virginia (32.4 percent) topped the list for obesity — and yes, their residents also had the lowest fruit and vegetable consumption. In West Virginia, for example, only 7.9 percent of residents consumed the recommended servings of fruits and veggies.

The same goes for exercise. States where people reported engaging in the most physical activity beyond their regular jobs included Colorado, Utah, and California, and these states also have the lowest obesity rankings. Colorado, for instance, holds the top spot for (relatively) slimmest state, with only 21 percent of its residents reported as obese.

“Having an unhealthy lifestyle clearly increases the likelihood of being obese,” says ACSH’s Dr. Ruth Kava. “This report suggests that substituting fruits and vegetables for other items in one’s diet, combined with regular physical activity, could help prevent or combat obesity,” she noted.

“Of course it’s simplistic to say that only fruits and veggies correlate with obesity rates,” adds Dr. Ross. “Increased fruit and vegetable consumption might also correlate with increased education, income, etc. Clearly, multiple factors are involved.”

UGA budget cuts will reduce Obesity Initiative funding


Obesity Initiative at UGA, Obesity Policy

When budget cuts loom, new initiatives are often the first to take the hit.

From Athens Banner-Herald and Atlanta Journal-Constitution stories, UGA documents recently submitted to state officials show plans to eliminate 130 jobs to cut state budgets by 3 percent. The 3 percent cuts add up to about $11 million.

Most of the job cuts will fall in UGA’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES), which will eliminate 70 jobs, most of them in the Cooperative Extension service or at the university’s network of agricultural experiment stations.


But also for the Obesity Initiative –

From ABH:

Reduce start-up funding for new faculty to be hired in molecular medicine and the UGA Obesity Initiative by $1.5 million. The money is used for such purposes as buying new lab equipment.

UGA researchers seeking young ones for nutrition study


Maternal & Childhood Obesity, Obesity Initiative at UGA

The Maternal and Child Nutrition Research Lab of the Department of Foods and Nutrition is looking for 4 to 6 year old boys and girls to participate in body composition research.


  • We need boys and girls for one session that takes around 45 minutes
  • Sessions can be on a Saturday for your convenience
  • There will be a questionnaire about activity level and dietary habits
  • The child’s body composition will be measured by the BOD POD Body Composition system

Participants will receive a copy of their body composition results.

Please contact Christina Whitworth at 706-542-7611 for more information about this study.

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.

NYC bans large sodas, need more to fight obesity links to cancer


Obesity in the News

Straight from the New York Times, we saw this one in the works:

Seeking to reduce runaway obesity rates, the New York City Board of Health on Thursday approved a ban on the sale of large sodas and other sugary drinks at restaurants, street carts and movie theaters, the first restriction of its kind in the country.

The measure, championed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, is certain to intensify a growing national debate about soft drinks and obesity, and it could spur other cities to follow suit, even as many New Yorkers say they remain uneasy about the plan.

The plan bans the sale of sweetened drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces, which will take effect March 12 unless blocked by a judge.

Though not the only answer, banning drinks could be one step in the right direction.

We need many more to be effective in the fight against obesity and cancer, Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, wrote the New York Times from Atlanta on Sept. 7:

As a physician, I know that how we have become obese as a country is far more complex than more calories consumed than expended. Advertising and marketing, growing portion sizes, widespread availability of inexpensive, calorie-dense foods and an environment that does not facilitate physical activity all contribute to obesity.

Obesity is linked to at least half a dozen cancer types and is responsible for about one in six cancer deaths.

Cancer incidence and death rates are on the decline. The obesity epidemic, especially among children, threatens to turn back the clock on that progress. We must employ multiple strategies and bold action to keep us from losing ground.

UGA groups discuss fighting obesity on campus


Obesity Initiative at UGA, Obesity Policy, University of Georgia

Several University of Georgia groups met to discuss their current work with health and wellness matters on campus.

After each team presented, the committee agreed to form a new team under UGA’s Obesity Initiative, created earlier this year to address adult and childhood obesity in Georgia.

Those who presented:

  • Megan Ford, Aspire Clinic: Provides multiple areas of counseling, looking at obesity and health from a holistic perspective, particularly through nutrition education and counseling. Aspire acknowledges that “problems don’t exist in a vacuum,” and services are provided in an integrated and interdisciplinary approach.
  • Kathrine Ingerson, Food Services: Conducts wellness for dining halls on campus, including personalized menu guidance and the Eating Smart class. She also creates wellness brochures for the dining halls and weekly table tents. As part of the new Food Services website, students can track nutrition facts.
  • Liz Rachun, University Health Center: Employs “Healthy Dawg” campaign to tell students about the physical, intellectual, emotional, environmental, social, and spiritual ways to balance their lives. Healthy Dawg Ambassadors help to promote health center services, and Healthy Dawg workshops give students various ways to learn about health on campus.
  • Lori Duke, College of Pharmacy: Second and third-year pharmacy students earn practicum hours in Healthy Fit and Healthy Dawg programs, in which they treat patients with multiple health and medication needs. The goal is to expand services to UGA employees because “there are complex patients, and some people have serious health challenges on campus.”
  • Ellen Evans, College of Education: As part of a new service-learning initiative, the Dawgs WORK (Worksite Obesity Reduction Know-how) wants to tackle employee health on campus through personalized and sustainable practices. A focus group is starting this fall to launch the idea.
  • David Knauff, School Garden Resource Coordination: As part of a brand new idea, Knauff wants to connect resources around Athens to help with community garden programs. Oftentimes, teachers want to start a program but don’t have the support or Georgia Performance Standards to integrate it into the classroom regularly.
  • Mark Wilson, Workplace Health Group: Part of a long-standing conversation, Wilson wants to help incorporate an employee wellness program at UGA that would incorporate all faculty and staff in a University-wide model. Though the idea needs system-wide support at the Board of Regents level, Wilson is still looking for ways to showcase how the program can significantly reduce health costs for UGA.




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.


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.