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obesity
soda consumption
good eating habits
obesity rates
childhood obesity
school of public health
centers for disease control and prevention
Will Peer Counseling Stem Teen Obesity In The Us?
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Will Peer Counseling Stem Teen Obesity In the Us?

Obesity is an ongoing problem worldwide but no other country is seeing the potential for nearly one hundred percent obesity rates like the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned that that is exactly what could be looming in the near future if something is not done. In teens, the obesity rate has skyrocketing, climbing to nearly twenty percent, over three times higher than what  it was some forty years ago. A research study has recently been completed on that topic and will be published in the journal, Childhood Obesity.

That study, conducted with six schools, used recent college graduates trained as peer mentors to at risk teens in the targeted school. The peer mentors helped the teens learn about nutrition and good eating habits as well as physical activity and generally healthier lifestyles. The project specifically targeted minority students as well as lower income, inner city students who are statistically at higher risk for becoming obese. Five other schools were used as the control groups in the study.

At the end of the study, researchers found that the students who went through the peer mentoring program were over ten percent more likely to have given up soda overall. Girls alone were found to be nearly 26% more likely to have cut down on their soda consumption or stopped completely. There was also a nearly fifty percent increase in the likelihood of physical activity a full year after the program ended.

The study is crucial and the program may be expanded due in part to other studies that back up its importance. A 2008 study, for instance showed that teens that participated in physical education, sports or activities were far more likely to be at or near a normal weight as adults than those who did none of these things. That study, conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that for every school day of physical education, there was a decrease of obesity risk equal to roughly five percent. If a student had gym or sports for all five days of the school week, the decrease was nearly thirty percent.

The American Academy of Pediatrics as well as the US Department of Health and Human Services set recommendations for physical activity levels for all grade levels. State laws also require a set number of hours for physical activity for every school district. But, only six percent of middle schools and five percent of high schools offer physical education and none of them offer or require the classes every day to their students.

Funding continues to be a major stumbling block to increasing physical education classes as well as standardized testing- teachers and school districts are so concerned with passing grades for those tests that they take time from other subjects to work with the students, costing them classes that include not only gym but art and music as well.


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