A $4.9 million federal research and extension grant will help create an obesity prevention programs at the University of Florida and other colleges.
University of Tennessee Assistant Professor Sarah Colby will lead the national study, which is called “Get Fruved,” according to a news release from the school.
Beginning in August, students at eight college campuses, including University of Florida, will develop ways to get younger students to adopt healthier lifestyles, according to the release. Students will use social media efforts to spread the campaign message, work to improve access to healthy foods at campus eateries, hold dance events, challenge each other to exercise more and other strategies, according to the release.
Pending future funding, the program could be expanded to work with middle and elementary school students.
The “Get Fruved” is a campaign that uses peer group influence to move high school and college students to eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise more and manage stress more effectively, according to the release. The University of Florida will receive $557,000 for the project over several years.
“Preventing obesity and its health consequences is achieved through long-term adoption of health behaviors such as being physically active, eating a healthful diet, rich in fruits and vegetables,” Anne Mathews, an assistant professor in Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences and primary investigator for the university’s part of the study, said in the release.
Karla Shelnutt, a University of Florida assistant professor in Family, Youth and Community Sciences, will be a project consultant, according to the release.
The percentage of people aged 12 to 19 who were obese increased from 5% to nearly 21% from 1980 to 2012, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Young adults are at an increased risk for unhealthy weight gain because of the many changes happening in their lives that can negatively affect their food and physical activity behaviors,” Shelnutt said in the release.
University researchers said in the release they hope using students for the project will spur others their age to heed the message.
Other universities receiving funding for the project, according to the release, are South Dakota State University, West Virginia University, Kansas State University, Auburn University, Syracuse University, New Mexico State University, the University of Maine, Rutgers University, the University of Nebraska, the University of Rhode Island, the University of New Hampshire and Tuskegee University.