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St. Jude program reduces weight gain in young African-American girls
Date:11/8/2007

A community-based weight control program designed by investigators now at St. Jude Childrens Research Hospital is the first such intervention to succeed for up to two years in reducing the prevalence of overweight children, according to a report presented at the American Heart Association meeting in Orlando, Florida.

The study, begun at the University of Memphis (Tennessee) and called Girls health Enrichment Multisite Studies (GEMS), demonstrated a significant reduction in the prevalence of obesity among a group of 8- to 10-year old African-American girls, two years after the beginning of a program designed to reduce their body mass index (BMI). BMI is a measure of body fat based on a calculation using height and weight. Prevalence is a measure of how common a condition or disease is in a given population.

The programs success is important because obesity in children has risen from less than 5 percent in the 1960s to more than 15 percent today, according to Robert Klesges, Ph.D., a member of the St. Jude Department of Epidemiology and Cancer Control and a professor of preventive medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. Children from low income families are at high risk for obesity because they have access to fewer health services, Klesges said. The educational materials developed for GEMS can be easily shared with other health care professionals and represent a tool for disseminating this program nationwide.

Klesges presented the results of the GEMS study at the annual American Heart Association conference this week as part of The Best of Scientific Sessions 2007 program, which is broadcast to cardiovascular and stroke clinicians and investigators at more than 1,100 medical centers and institutions.

The GEMS study recruited 303 parent-daughter pairs at 10 community centers in Memphis, Tenn. The researchers randomly assigned 153 pairs into the active intervention group, which focused on weight-gain pr
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Contact: Summer Freeman
summer.freeman@stjude.org
901-495-3061
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
Source:Eurekalert

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