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,

Gallup survey: Boulder, Colo. remains least obese city


Obesity Initiative at UGA

Well, that’s no surprise, really.

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index for 2012 shows that Boulder residents are the least likely to be obese — for the third consecutive year. It was 12.5 percent in 2012.

Those around Mission, Texas, are the most likely to be obese, at 38.5 percent.

As Gallup points out, adult obesity rates are higher than 15 percent in all but two of the 189 metro areas surveyed. Residents in the areas with higher obesity rates struggle to afford basic necessities, they say.

What’s after Boulder? Charlottesville, VA. Another no-brainer? Three other Colorado areas — Fort Collins, Denver, and Colorado Springs — made the top 10.

What’s surprising? The top 10 most obese areas. Check it out:Gallup metro areas

Intriguing infographic shows the numbers and costs associated with obesity


Obesity Initiative at UGA

Obesity infographicYou guys know how I love infographics, and this one immediately won me over this week.

Check out this awesome explanation about the numbers and costs associated with obesity. The American Public Health Association held a contest for National Public Health week, and this year’s theme was “Public Health is ROI – Save Lives, Save Money.”

A team from MPH@GW, the George Washington University’s online Master of Public Health program, developed this graphic with a designer, professors, and staff.

Just last week, they were announced as national winners for the infographic! Check out the full version on their site.

Credit goes to Sarah Fudin for telling me about the contest and graphic. She manages the community and content for the MPH@GW, which sounds like an awesome program.

“We thought focusing on the cost of obesity would be a good way to support this year’s theme and raise awareness to the obesity issues our nation faces,” she said.

“I am super excited to be working in a space where I can connect with people passionate about making our world a better place,” she added. “Happy belated National Public Health Week!”



Global Education Forum: Fla.’s afterschool programs set stage for Ga exercise programs in schools


Obesity Initiative at UGA

This is post 5 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 afternoon, undergraduate and graduate students presented posters about their research. Because of Professor Bryan McCullick’s work with afterschool programs, I was struck by this study that evaluated afterschool programs in Florida schools. These school receive federal funds to promote their programs, and they could become a model for Georgia schools.

Minhong Kim, a sports management doctoral student, and James Zhang in kinesiology decided to look at the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program, which was enacted by Congress under the No Child Left Behind Act, is an opportunity for students to enhance and reinforce academic lessons of the regular school day, while also allowing them to learn new skills and discover new opportunities after the regular school day has ended.

Florida has used funding to beef up physical activity in afterschool programs. It’s the only federally-funded resource for these programs.

They investigated 249 centers during the 2010-2011 school year and found both positives and negatives. Ultimately, they concluded, these “existing programs can help shape and mold successful programs for future participants.”

Global Education Forum: Food insecurity/obesity needs research on college campuses


Obesity Initiative at UGA

This is post 4 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 afternoon, undergraduate and graduate students presented posters about their research. I was fascinated by a poster by a group of women’s studies students about food insecurity for UGA students and what options are available for groceries in Athens.

The group thought of the idea while in a class about food insecurity. The lack of grocery stores near campus — particularly cheaper options — is a hot topic that’s often discussed by not studied. They found that there are few studies across the country about this, but one at the University of Alabama did find that 36 percent of those surveyed did show moderate food insecurity.

In Athens, they looked at the options: Aldi, the Daily Co-op, Earth Fare, Kroger, Wal-Mart, and the Athens Farmers’ Market. They priced vegetables and other healthy foods at these places. They also looked at options available through the UGA Food Pantry and University Health Center’s Nutrition Kitchen.

“College food insecurity is an unknown problem, and few college students wanted to admit that it was,” they concluded.

Global Education Forum: Tackling childhood obesity requires positive future-focus


Obesity Initiative at UGA

This is post 3 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 afternoon, undergraduate and graduate students presented posters about their research. I was particularly struck by a kinesiology doctoral student’s poster about using positive thinking and associations to encourage physical activity in children in the future.

Brian Yim, a student interested in sports consumption and sports fan behavior in particular, is known around the department as the “emotion guy.” He likes to include the psychological aspects into his kinesiology research.

For this poster, Yim suggested focusing on “positive anticipatory” behavior, which is when a person thinks about the future event and feels the emotion now, and “positive anticipated” behavior, which is when a person feels the emotion after the event. By pairing these, Yim explains that positive-thinking exercises, such as a writing task, could encourage students to be motivated about exercise and help them to look forward to it in the future.

Yim acknowledged some of the environmental factors that may get into the way, such as higher barriers to access for students with lower socioeconomic status, but he hopes to test his theory with various groups in the future.

“I think we can — and will — motivate them,” he said.

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.

Global Education Forum: Students need specific types of physical activity at school


Obesity Initiative at UGA

This is post 1 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 Bryan McCullick spoke about “addressing obesity before it starts with physical education and activity in schools.”

McCullick explained the need to look at PE classes and physical activity in schools as a preventative medicine rather than treatment. We need to get to the students early, and we need to address it in the correct way.

For example, PE classes that were once seen as an inseparable part of education are now considering electives or special classes that are done occasionally during the week. In addition, PE is seen as a panacea for addressing obesity.

But if students don’t learn the skills related to sports and physical activity games, they won’t continue them into the future, he said.

“We can’t do anything about obesity without physical activity. Mounds of scientific evidence supports that,” he said. “But we need our students to be physically educated. The purpose of PE is not just to ‘run, run, run’ during the school day.”

McCullick and colleagues have developed games for all ages to teach students the skills related to fitness and sports, such as passing, blocking, and throwing. They teach these skills during afterschool programs, which helps the students to supplement their PE classes. Once they gain competence and become confident with a skill, the more likely they are to continue participation.

Physical fitness is all about practice, he said.

Now McCullick and others hope to answer a few questions about their program before trying to take it statewide:

  • Can afterschool personnel’s instructional behavior be sustained? (Once McCullick teaches them how to run these games, can they conduct it correctly?)
  • Do children’s moderate/vigorous physical activity rates continue when we leave? (Parents are already saying their kids are feeling more skilled and playing more at home.)
  • What are the effects of these games on body mass and academic performance? (Do the strategy skills help with critical thinking in the classroom as well?)

“Physical activity competence is essential to any efforts to prevent and decrease obesity,” McCullick said. “It’s acquired through physical education. There are no natural-born athletes.”

Afterschool programs are plentiful and the perfect place to start, he added.

“Rather than just being a holding pen and a place for kids to be safe, they could be so much more.”

Tuesday’s UGA forum focused on obesity, food security and nutrition


Obesity Initiative at UGA

University of Georgia faculty from multiple disciplines will discuss their efforts related to obesity, food security and nutrition during the seventh annual UGA Global Educational Forum April 2 in Grand Halls A, B and C at the Tate Student Center.
The UGA Global Educational Forum is an annual university-wide comprehensive platform for a dialogue on culture, teaching and research on topics relevant to a globalized economy. The forum brings together faculty scholars and students from across the university to share their perspectives and experiences related to this year’s theme, “Obesity, Food Security and Nutrition in Global Context.”
I’ll be there! So stay tuned for blog posts and coverage. I’m excited about the sessions. Check them out:
  • The conference will open with a keynote address titled, “The Global and the Local, the Physical and Mental: Anthropological Perspectives on the Causes and Consequences of Food Insecurity,” by Craig Hadley, an associate professor of anthropology at Emory University, from 8-9:15 a.m.
  • Jung Sun Lee, associate professor and faculty of gerontology from the department of foods and nutrition in UGA’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences, will deliver a lecture titled, “Food Insecurity in Older Georgians,” from 9:30-10:45 a.m.
  • Silvia Giraudo, associate dean and professor in the department of food and nutrition in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, will speak on “Nutrition among Latino Populations,” from 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
  • The invitation-only luncheon will feature a keynote speech by Amara Azeamama, assistant professor in the department of biostatistics and epidemiology in UGA’s College of Public Health, titled, “Nutritional Status in Children from Resource Limited Settings,” from 12:30-1:45 p.m.
  • Students and visiting scholars will make poster presentations from 2-3:15 p.m.
  • Kevin McCully and Bryan McCullick, two professors in the College of Education’s department of kinesiology, will make panel presentations from 3:30-4:30 p.m. McCully will talk about, “Reducing Obesity in People with Disabilities: Partnering the University with the Community.” McCullick will speak on “Addressing Obesity Before it Starts, Physical Education and Activity in Schools.” Both will take questions following their presentations.

UGA pilot study lays ground for helping Ga. workers manage weight and reduce diabetes


Obesity in the Workplace

Here’s a story that I reported this semester that will become more significant as the UGA Workplace Health Group publishes results from their study in a couple of years …

Athens, Ga. – Once Juanita North started writing it all down, she began making changes in her portion sizes and paying attention to fat grams in foods.

North and colleagues in the University of Georgia’s parking services department participated in a pilot study by UGA’s Workplace Health Group aimed at health and weight management in the workplace. North, who manages the department’s front desk as an administrative assistant, joined nine other UGA employees each Thursday morning to set goals and talk about their struggles with eating and exercise. At the end of the six-month program, most of the group lost a few pounds. Now, as they work through the “maintenance” portion of the program, they’re trying to keep it off.

“You must be aware of everything. You may think you’re on track, but you’re not,” North said. “When you write down everything, it makes you think. Then you start realizing what you’re not doing to help yourself.”

The pilot group followed the Fuel Your Life program, a worksite adaptation of the national Diabetes Prevention Program created by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It encourages users to move through lessons in a manual and discuss habits with peers, such as boosting physical activity and developing healthier eating habits.

“I encouraged my co-workers to go to the meetings so we could all get ideas about healthy eating and exercise,” North said. “We all need to lose weight and say we will, but we never do. There were a lot of excuses, but by the end, everyone was on board and looking forward to each week.”

Now the researchers are taking what they learned at UGA on the road to help government workers in Athens, Columbus, and Macon with their caloric intake and physical activity.

Mark Wilson, director of the research group and head of the department of health promotion and behavior in the College of Public Health, received a grant in 2011 to test different versions of the Diabetes Prevention Program among municipal employees in Athens-Clarke County, Columbus and Macon. The $3 million, five-year grant, funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease, allows the group to run several trials of the 12-month weight management program in each city starting this month.

The intervention program tests three different formats designed to improve the health of the government employees. The first is a group-centered approach, similar to the one used with the parking services group, in which about 10 participants regularly meet to share progress and provide support. The second approach fosters engagement with a health coach via telephone. The third group receives the educational manual to set goals and work through alone while recording eating and physical activity habits.

“Worksites haven’t been attuned to this idea of a health program on site,” said Wilson, who has been researching worksite health for three decades. “But they have become interested in this in the past few years because employees have health issues that lead to huge costs.”

The average employee gains about three pounds each year, Wilson said. Losing weight is hard enough, and Wilson wants to help state government employees to maintain their weight from year to year.

Once Wilson’s team completes this study, the next step may be ramping up the intensity of the program in order to increase weight loss. In addition, Wilson is interested in studying how worksites can adapt the national Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, which advises older adults how to manage pain linked with diabetes, arthritis and heart disease, and is often used in community settings such as senior centers.

“Due to the recession, more individuals stayed in the workforce who would have retired,” Wilson said. “There are some who went back into the workforce as well, and employers are finding this new program attractive in helping them.”

Wilson teamed up with Don Walters, parking services manager and a fellow UGA Ramsey Center exerciser, to start the pilot study on campus. Walters encouraged his employees to take time on Thursday mornings to participate and keep each other accountable.

“The parking services group was so supportive of each other and positive,” said Tiffany Howard, a Workplace Health Group coach who directed the weekly meetings. “It’s easy to overlook how much time we spend at work doing our responsibilities and how much that impacts our health, and I think this group was able to build relationships and a support team to discuss that.”

As part of the program, North incorporated walking into her daily routine again. Some parking services employees decided to walk more during rounds on campus, and others took time to exercise at the Ramsey Center next door. Now that the group is entering the maintenance phase and trying to keep up the good habits, North hopes other campus workers can participate in a similar group meeting.

“It’s a valuable program, and it needs to continue to give other employees a chance,” North said. “On the whole, there’s not a program for employees to discuss and receive valuable information about eating and exercise, and this encourages employees to get out and do more.”