TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- In response to a worrisome rise in childhood obesity, Florida school districts have begun to monitor student growth development every year, but there is little research available to determine if the effort is having an effect.
Now, with a $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health and with the cooperation of Leon County Schools, a Florida State University College of Medicine researcher will explore the impact of school-based screening on student fitness and parent behavior.
"NIH, the Institute of Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control really want this question answered. There will be a lot of people interested in this," said Suzanne Johnson, department chair in medical humanities and social sciences at the College of Medicine, who was awarded the four-year grant. "It's a very big undertaking, involving the cooperation of 12 elementary schools and a massive amount of data collection."
The stakes are huge. In the past 30 years, according to several studies, childhood obesity has doubled for preschoolers and adolescents and tripled for those ages 6 to 11. High obesity rates are particularly common in ethnic-minority children. An obese child often becomes an obese adult, and obesity opens the door to many health problems.
Among them is type 2 diabetes, previously considered a disease of older overweight adults but now increasingly prevalent among children. At current U.S. rates, a 2003 study indicates, 33 percent of boys and 39 percent of girls born in 2000 are expected to develop it in their lifetime.
"Type 2 diabetes is totally preventable," Johnson said. "It's just terrible to have kids with type 2 diabetes. It's simply unacceptable."
She and her research team will monitor children at 12 Leon County elementary schools that have a high percentage of ethnic-minority students.
The primary aim is to study the impact of BMI (body mass index) screenings. BMI, ca
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Florida State University