The American Heart Association is spreading the word this week to use social media to fight childhood obesity. It’s an interesting idea, especially because younger and younger students are using apps and texting. Will it work?
Kids and teens increasingly keep in touch through social media, and all that texting, tweeting, and online networking can be a powerful tool for combating childhood obesity, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
In a newly released statement, the group calls for more research to help doctors and health policy makers incorporate social media into existing obesity prevention and management programs.
“Almost all kids have Internet access and many have smartphones,” says Duke University chief of pediatric cardiology Jennifer S. Li, MD. “We need to take advantage of social networking to connect with them because it is the way they are connecting with their friends.”
Spelman College, not too far down the road, is investing in a nice gym and campus wellness program for students. Check out this interesting idea, featured on Fox News:
Spelman College, a historic college for black women, is taking a long, hard look at their NCAA funds. The school’s million-dollar sports budget — typically used for uniforms, travel and referees — will now be diverted to pay for a state-of-the-art gym and campus-wide wellness programs intended to help all students on campus. This is the last year Spelman students will be able to participate in NCAA Division III sports.
“I understand this change is disappointing to those students who have been very involved in intercollegiate athletics,” said Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, the president of Spelman College. “We can use those dollars to bring in more instructors — to focus on wellness in a way that will allow all 2,100 students to really participate.”
College officials envision a yoga room, a spin room, an indoor track and new equipment that would rival any commercial gym. It is as much about a healthy weight as it is a healthy mind and life.
“Our students – most of whom are African-American women — are twice as likely to become diabetic. They are more likely to experience a heart attack or stroke in their lifetimes. Largely because of the high levels of obesity and overweight within the African-American community,” Tatum said. “This generation of young people is not likely to live as long as its parent generation because of poor diet and lack of exercise. I have been to the funerals of young alumnae – one of the things I say to our students is, we are investing a lot in you.”
Wow! This “Weight of Obesity” infographic is pretty unsettling. Compare the U.S. to other countries in the infographic below. What a way to represent data visually, found on the Larry Ferlazzo blog.
Well, this is an interesting one. Apparently one study from Northwestern is showing that sitting is negating — or at least certainly not helping — regular exercise routines. What do we do now?
Check it out in the New York Daily News:
Women just can’t win. Even if you are a gym rat, if you sit the rest of the day you are at increased risk for diabetes, heart disease, obesity and premature death, a new study has found. Regular exercise, it turns out, does not reduce the risk of an otherwise sedentary lifestyle.
“We all know someone who gets a good workout in every day, but then spends a large portion of their day sitting in front of a computer with few breaks,” said Lynette Craft, lead author of the study and adjunct professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
“If these people could replace some of the sitting with light activity just getting up, moving around, maybe standing up when talking on the phone, walking down the hall instead of sending an email we do think they could gain health benefits.”
The study, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, looked at whether women who exceed the federal government’s current Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans — getting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week — are less sedentary than those who don’t meet the guidelines.
While many of the women in the study met or exceeded 150 minutes of physical activity per week, in reality only a fraction of the women’s days were spent being physically active. The women in the study spent an average of nine hours a day sitting. That number is consistent with previous results from much larger studies that examined the number of hours Americans spend sitting every day.
Emerging research has led health experts to believe that sitting is the new smoking, and women and men both need to be mindful about being couch — or desk — potatoes.
A new study is roaming around the news reports — certain factors could be early indicators of obesity. This story comes from the Mother Nature Network, linking to a PLos One study. Check it out:
According to a new study published in PLos One
, certain factors might be very good indicators of who will become obese and who will not. They are: birth weight of the baby, body mass index of the parents, number of people in the family, whether the mother works outside the home, and whether the mother smoked during pregnancy.
The study’s authors used these five factors to accurately predict obesity rates for 4,000 participants born in 1986 in Finland, the United States and Italy.
Of course, some of these factors just make logical sense. Parents with a higher mass index are more likely to have children who are larger and thus more prone to obesity. But what about the other factors: number of people in the family, prenatal smoking, and whether or not the mother works outside the home? I was a little surprised not that these factors played a role in childhood obesity but that it was so large a role, whereas other factors such as parental stress
did not play a role at all according to this study.
With childhood obesity rates tripling over the last three decades in the U.S., health experts and parents alike are scrambling to find tools to help kids stay healthy. Hopefully, this research can be used to help identify babies that are risk for becoming obese so that parents and their health care providers can develop a proactive strategy for prevention.
It’s interesting how Coke is getting involved in the fight against obesity in several cities. Coca-Cola employees are talking to UGA Obesity Initiative professors about some ideas. Let’s see where it goes!
From the AJC:
The Coca-Cola Foundation announced Monday that it’s donated $5 million to put 100 fitness centers in schools across the United States over the next five years.
The group, the charitable arm of Atlanta-based beverage maker Coca-Cola, said the project is part of a partnership with the National Foundation for Governor’s Fitness Councils and the American College of Sports Medicine
The centers are expected to feature state-of-the-art fitness equipment and “provide more than 5 million workouts annually,” the foundation said. So far, targeted locations include three schools in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Boston. Fifteen Live Positively Fitness Centers are expected to be in elementary and middle schools across the country by the end of year.
Coca-Cola and the beverage industry has come under heavy criticism over the last decade for, according to detractors, contributing to obesity in America. While denying the accusations, the industry has reduced sugary drinks it puts in school vending machines and Coca-Cola has added smaller can sizes to its line up to allow consumers to still enjoy their products with fewer calories.
UGA Newsource picked up a few interesting stories about obesity and getting fit this semester. Check out the stories here.
UGA student competes in fat burning challenge:
Dakota Griffin is a sophomore at UGA who refuses to contribute to Georgia’s growing obesity statistics. Just four weeks ago, Dakota decided to take control of her health and join a local gym- The Omni Club.
The UGA Obesity Initiative found that one of every three adults in Georgia is obese. The Initiative also says obesity costs Georgia an estimated 2.4 billion dollars a year. Dakota plans to save the state a little cash.
Since joining Omni, Dakota says she’s lost 4-percent body fat. She gained six pounds of muscle and lost five pounds overall.
Dakota isn’t taking on just any weight loss program. She’s competing in Omni’s Total Image Challenge: a fat loss competition between men and women in the Athens community.
UGA students getting fit with smartphones:
In the past fifteen years, Georgia’s obesity rate has doubled and is expected to keep rising. Some people are doing what they can to stay healthy and beat the statistic.
UGA junior, Cameron Hutchins, uses a personal trainer ever week to stay in shape.
Hutchins says, “I knew if I didn’t work out I’d be pretty chubby. I’d probably be overweight right now and not in the shape I’m supposed to be in.”
But gym memberships and personal trainers can get pricey. And with this slumping economy, it’s not an option for many people. For Spencer Tolley, technology is what keeps him active. He relies on applications that he downloaded to his iPhone.
Tolley says he uses them because “they’re free and saves the cost of going to a gym. I can go at my own schedule. If you have a personal trainer you’re required to be there at this day, this time all the time. I just like the convenience of being able to do my own thing.”
USA Today is really digging into some interesting aspects of obesity and weight gain. Check out the USA Today story about architects and designers who are looking for new ways to keep us active in the office.
The push to reverse the obesity epidemic and promote physical fitness is spilling into design and architecture and beginning to target one of the nation’s most sedentary environments: the office.
“Active design” — the architectural principle of creating spaces that encourage healthy lifestyles — is gaining popularity as more cities and companies join the fight and embrace healthy initiatives and “green” measures.
New York — the city that banned trans fats in restaurants and the sales of large sugary drinks in cups — adopted Active Design Guidelines in 2006. That has sparked interest among architects and planners, even on the eve of a deep financial slump. With the help of a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the city is mentoring 14 other cities, including Philadelphia, Tucson, Nashville and Seattle, to improve the built environment to reduce obesity.
Now this is interesting. I never would have considered it, but trucking websites are discussing this new study featured in Accident Analysis & Prevention this month.
From a story in Truckinginfo.com:
Obese truckers, during their first two years on the road, are 43% to 55% more likely to be involved in a crash when compared against those truckers with a normal BMI.
Stephen Burks of the University of Minnesota-Morris, a former truck driver and behavioral economist, has been working with Schneider National for more than a decade to study truck driver health and safety.
According to an article by Science Now, it was two years ago that Burks and his team decided to study drivers’ BMI numbers and see how that related to crash rates.
They asked 744 rookie drivers with Schneider National for their height and weight, and from that information calculated the each driver’s individual BMI. Those with a BMI higher than 25 are considered overweight, while those with a BMI greater than 30 were considered obese.
Remember this story in September? UGA researchers boost efficacy of drugs by using nanoparticles to target ‘powerhouse of cells’
Dr. Shanta Dhar won an award at a conference in early November for her research!
This will appear in Columns’ “Kudos” section soon:
Shanta Dhar, assistant professor of chemistry in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, received the Targeting Mitochondria 2012 Award for Scientific Contribution by the 3rd World Congress on Targeting Mitochondria and the International Society of Antioxidant in Nutrition and Health, which is the highest honor given by the conference. Dhar’s research, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, uses nanoparticles to deliver drugs to mitochondria to to treat cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and obesity in studies conducted with cultured cells.
Check out the conference page:
Researchers at the University of Georgia have refined the nanoparticle drug delivery process further by using nanoparticles to deliver drugs to a specific organelle within cells.
By targeting mitochondria, “the powerhouse of cells,” the researchers increased the effectiveness of mitochondria-acting therapeutics used to treat cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and obesity in studies conducted with cultured cells.
“The mitochondrion is a complex organelle that is very difficult to reach, but these nanoparticles are engineered so that they do the right job in the right place,” said senior author Shanta Dhar, an assistant professor of chemistry in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences.
Dhar and her co-author, doctoral student Sean Marrache, used a biodegradable, FDA-approved polymer to fabricate their nanoparticles and then used the particles to encapsulate and test drugs that treat a variety of conditions. Their results were published this week in early edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.