Combating childhood obesity

Hannah Marsh

With a one-year old daughter and history of diabetes in the family, 27-year-old Sarah Keeney is well aware of the importance of preventing childhood obesity.

“As a parent, I obviously want the best for my daughter and that involves her health, too,” Keeney said.

As childhood obesity increasingly becomes more and more of an issue in the United States, an Iowa State University research team is working on ways to combat this epidemic.

Greg Welk, professor of kinesiology at ISU, is working with a group of researchers to improve a tool called the Youth Activity Profile which is designed to help schools assess children’s physical activity both at school and at home.

The tool also allows students to report how much time they are spending doing sedentary activities, like spending time on the computer or playing video games.

Welk and his team were recently granted $400,000 to improve the Youth Activity Profile, in efforts to make it more of an accurate measurement. The grant will allow the team to refine the calibration to ensure that it can work in different regions and different seasons.

A report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services states that active children have a lower risk for obesity and other diseases, preform better in school and are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression.

By improving measurement tools, Welk and his team hope to instill these positive habits into children at an early age to get them started on the right track.