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UNC Researchers Tackle Childhood Obesity

Posted October 4, 2000

Obesity in children has doubled in the past 12 years.(WRAL-TV5 News)

— A major battle of the bulge kicked off Thursday atUNC-Chapel Hill. Researchers announced amultimillion-dollar effort to help teenage girlsget fit and avoid obesity-related health problems.

With a $34 million grant, UNC researchers hope to develop a national model to encourage teenage girls to get fit.

Thanks to computers and video games, kids are not going outside like the used to. Middle school P.E. teacher Lindsey Linker says it takes a lot to motivate kids to go outside.

"This generation is a lot more sedentary than my generation ever was," she says. "They have so many more opportunities."

Obesity in children has doubled in the past 12 years, matched by an increase in obesity-related diseases. The skyrocketing rate ofdiabetesin children is remarkable.

"It used to be called adult-onset diabetes," says Dr. June Stevens with theUNC School of Public Health. "Now we call ittype 2 diabetes, because we see it in children."

Linker believes physical education is a key ingredient in the recipe.

"The key thing for us as physical educators is to make [exercise] fun for them, and make them see it can be a way of life," she says.

Researchers also plan to tackle the topic ofbody imagein society. They say girls are receiving mixed messages: While size-two models are showcased as being the ideal size, society promotes an attitude of over-indulgence with super-size meals and buffets.

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