New toolkit helps states identify obesity prevention strategies


Obesity Initiative at UGA

Check out this story featured by the National Collaborative on Childhood Education Research today for this month’s spotlight. It’s about aiding states with their obesity prevention struggles.

Read a bit:

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) unveiled a new toolkit to help states identify evidenced-based obesity prevention policy and environmental change interventions to include in their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education (SNAP-Ed). The toolkit includes strategies and interventions that can be readily adopted by states in a variety of different capacities including child care, school, community, and family settings.

All 50 states, the District of Colombia, and the Virgin Islands provide nutrition education for participants enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamps) and other eligible low-income individuals. The goal is to help people make healthy food choices within a limited budget and choose physically active lifestyles consistent with the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans and MyPlate.

See more from the May newsletter here and get involved!


Does obesity impact folate metabolism?


Obesity in the News, Obesity Initiative at UGA

It does, according to several UGA professors who conducted a study recently. I published this piece in the Public Library of Science (PLoS) blog called Obesity Panacea. They have great posts about the world of obesity research, and I thought this made a nice fit.

Here’s a bit:

At the University of Georgia, a group of nutrition professors are investigating how obesity may affect folate metabolism during pregnancy. With an increasingly obese population and folate recommendations based on studies from the 1990s, they surmise that obese mothers may need more folate during pregnancy.

They recently conducted a pilot study of both normal weight and obese women to measure how the recommended dose — 400 micrograms — is metabolized in the blood over 10 hours. The study, published in the International Journal of Obesity earlier this month, shows that there’s a significant difference between the two groups.

Check out more on the Obesity Panacea blog!

UGA Biggest Loser draws dozens of participants


Obesity Initiative at UGA

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UGA’s Biggest Loser contest — It’s not about what you lose but what you gain.

This year’s group drew more than 70 participants who joined weekly group workouts, cooking classes, wellness presentations, and a three-class water fitness session.

The top student and faculty/staff members won $100 gift cards to Bulldog Sporting Goods, and the team with the best attendance won the Team Award.

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The contest, run by Brian Williams in the Ramsey Center, is assitant director of strength and conditioning. He runs the cardio and weight facilities at Ramsey.

Stay tuned for more details about this year’s contest and next year’s contest as well!




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.