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UM School of Medicine finds mentorship program successfully fights childhood obesity
Date:8/2/2010

and how important it is to choose to drink water over sugary sodas. The program also provided information and recipes for the parents, but the focus was on helping the kids to make better choices for themselves.

"No family that wants their adolescent to be fat, but it's very difficult to change behavior patterns," Dr. Black says. "That's what we were trying to do: to change eating and activity patterns for these adolescents."

The results were significant: after two years, the rate of overweight/obesity among children enrolled in the mentorship program declined five percent, while it rose 11 percent among children in the control group. The children chose better foods, were more physically active and ate fewer snacks and desserts than the control group. Adolescence is a time when many children gain excessive weight, but judging by their Body Mass Indexes, the kids in the mentorship program did not. Maybe just as importantly, says Dr. Black, the adolescents had fun.

"The kids loved it," says Dr. Black. "The college students we chose were just wonderful. They really cared about those kids and about the community. The adolescents and their families loved them. They program was so enthusiastically embraced that we initiated a graduation ceremony to celebrate their accomplishments no one wanted the program to end."

The study was funded by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development.

Spurred on by the Challenge! program's success, Dr. Black and her team have begun a new study focusing on middle school girls. They worked with four Baltimore City middle schools during the 2009-2010 school year, and will work with eight middle schools during the upcoming 2010-2011 school year. This time, the study targets children on two levels. The individual level outreach is similar to the original Challenge! program, enrolling girls
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Contact: Karen Buckelew
kbuckelew@som.umaryland.edu
410-706-7590
University of Maryland Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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