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Session Summary: Diet, Exercise and Obesity

November 10, 2012 01:02 PM

Four main studies were the focus of this panel on diet, exercise, and obesity as it specifically related to children and families.

The Effect of Business Cycles and Parental Indebtedness on Childhood Obesity by Angela Fertig from University of Georgia and Sharri Byron from Auburn University at Montgomery examined how business cycles affect child obesity and whether the effect is different for the households that have consumer debt.

In the study The Impact of School-Level State Obesity Policies on Youth’s Physical Activity, Eating Habits, and Self-Awareness, Venkata Nadella and Haeil Jung from Indiana University examined state and local legislations that targeted childhood obesity. The researchers used data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), and the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). The results found school level legislations targeted at improving a child’s eating habits, physical activity, and self awareness regarding their weight.

Chaeyoung Chang and Haeil Jung of Indiana University discussed in their study Does Mother’s Work Lead to Child Obesity in Low-Income Families?: Evidence From the ECLS-K Cohort  whether maternal work influenced children’s weight and if so, when and who are most affected by it. Chang began the discussion by stating that “child obesity is an epidemic problem.” Preliminary results of the study showed a positive association between a mother’s work, which included the number of hours per week, with children in 1st, 3rd and 5th grades, and child obesity. They found that these relationships are stronger for mothers from high-income families and weaker and statistically insignificant for mothers from families below the poverty line.

The last discussion, Framing Consequences of Childhood Obesity to Shape Public Opinion, was led by Sarah Gollust from University of Minnesota, Jeff Niederdeppe from Cornell University, and Colleen Barry from Johns Hopkins University. In recent policy and media discussions, the topic of childhood obesity is surrounded by emphasizing the consequences of the disease. Using news media and policy reports, the study identified 11 types of messages that are used in descriptions of the problem of childhood obesity. The research also compared the issue from a political perspective and how these messages can help shape policy agenda and analysis.

Contributed by Shreya Barot, Rutgers University



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