National statistics show an alarming increase in adolescent obesity, the target of this study. The percentage of people aged 12 to 19 who were obese increased from 5 percent to nearly 21 percent 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.
UF will receive $557,000 for the project. The money, from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, comes in one-year increments, and UF will start receiving its share in August, Mathews said.
Starting in August, students at eight college campuses, including UF, will develop ways to get younger students to adopt healthier lifestyles. Students will dress as fruits and vegetables, use social media and utilize information from a website, www.fruved.com.They also may expand gardens, work to improve access to healthy foods at campus eateries, hold dance events and challenge each other to exercise more.
Eventually, pending future federal funding and the study’s results, college students could work with middle and elementary students to help them develop their own healthy lifestyle campaigns.
In addition to UF and UT, the other universities working on the project 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.
TK: Expect this story to get plenty of play on the Drudge Report, Fox News and Rush today. Despite all the other facets of the study, the media - and yes, the conservative media - will link $5 million grant and “dressing creepy students up as fruits and vegetables.” Not exactly true, of course, but it makes for a better headline.