Tackling Childhood Obesity

By: Gary Smollen Email
By: Gary Smollen Email

As childhood obesity continues to be a growing problem, researchers are turning to a group of students in Fremont in the hunt for a solution.

The plan is a familiar combination of combining nutrition with physical activity.

Push-ups at Johnson Crossing carry an added weight and it’s one that researchers hope can turn the tide on childhood obesity.

The students are participating in a research study that will combine nutrition information and physical activity to hopefully create a better future for young people.

According to UNL researcher Melissa Walling, "We need to change both things in order to really make an impact on childhood obesity. We can't just focus on nutrition. We can't just focus on physical activity. We have to do them together.”

Researchers believe that by combining nutrition and physical education, students will make the connection between eating well and physical activity and pick a better lifestyle. It's something many kids have already learned at home.

Sixth-grader Turner Blick said, "It kind of runs in our family. We run and they (parents) really encourage me to do the things I want to do."

Emma Shepard is a sixth-grader whose folks limit her time in front of the screen.

“I have an iPad,” she said. “I play with that but not really."

Seven hundred students are being tested so researchers can get a baseline physical fitness level for them. In the actual study, 200 to 300 will be chosen to participate.

At the end of six months researchers should know if nutrition education, served with physical education will make our children healthier.

Walling says if the research shows that the students are living a healthier lifestyle it could lead to financial gains because we would be spending less for health care as they age.

The research is being done in conjunction with South Dakota State University.

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