UNC Asheville Research Analyzes Buncombe County's Childhood Obesity Problem; Event Will Present Findings, Panel Discussion to Gather Solutions
Tue, 04/21/2009 - 12:00am
Why does a child choose French fries over apple slices in the school cafeteria? Do elementary school students think exercise is important? How can parents determine if their children are a healthy weight?
These questions were examined by UNC Asheville faculty and student researchers, who recently wrapped up a survey of more than 750 Buncombe County third, fourth and fifth graders and some 400 of their parents. Initial findings of the year-long research project will be presented at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 30, at UNC Asheville's Reuter Center. The presentation will be followed by a panel discussion on the issues surrounding local childhood obesity and possible solutions to the problem. Panelists will include Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy; Evelyn Chiang, UNC Asheville assistant professor of psychology and co-researcher; noted pediatrician Dr. Olson Huff; and local physical education teacher Penny Lewis. The event is free and open to the public.
The UNC Asheville researchers surveyed students at six local schools, including West Buncombe, Avery's Creek, Haw Creek, Vance, Jones and Dickson elementary schools. The findings showed that more than 32% of the children in the study were overweight or obese, nearly the same as the national average. However, some 75% of parents of overweight children did not believe their child to be overweight. Instead, these parents reported that the child was a healthy weight. In addition, only one in 10 parents of obese children actually saw the child as very overweight; the remaining parents viewed the child as either a healthy weight or only slight overweight. Other findings of the study revealed that children who believe that exercise is costly and makes them miss out on fun activities report exercising less than children who do not see cost as so high.
For more information about the event, call the Asheville Graduate Center at 828.251.6099.