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KSU's professors' comparative US/Brazil study of obesity in sync with national focus   As…

Georgia (Jun 10, 2010)

KSU's professors' comparative US/Brazil study of obesity in sync with national focus
As First Lady Michele Obama tackles the growing epidemic of childhood obesity in America, two KSU professors are leading a consortium of four U.S. and Brazilian universities to identify the environmental and cultural factors that make Americans more prone to obesity and Brazilians to be healthier and leaner. 
    Under a four-year, $200,000 federal grant, Department of Health, Physical Education and Sport Science professors and consortium co-directors Mitchell Collins and Bernie Goldfine have created semester-long exchange programs to analyze lifestyle and environmental factors that may contribute to the disparity. The goal is to train future health professionals to more effectively address obesity.  
    Collins, the project’s principal investigator, said it’s not enough to know that Americans eat more and exercise less. “We must also understand why this is so — what’s really going on in the environment that causes this? Students are making observations based on day-to-day living in the host country and they are discovering pretty substantial cultural differences.”
    For example, Brazilian students marvel that Americans sit in their car at a bank’s drive-through window or grab a bite on the run — not the cultural norm in Brazil, but done routinely in the U.S. Brazilians view dining as a social occasion, taking their heaviest meal together at midday, compared to the American tendency to eat a large meal at the end of the day. 
    At the same time, American students in Brazil have had to acclimate to healthier practices, like walking everywhere. “Every one of the American students has lost weight,” Collins said.
    In the next phase of the project, Collins said students and faculty will examine public policies that affect obesity. For example Brazilian policy deems soda and snack machines in public places undesirable.
    “The job the vending machine is doing means someone is out of work,” Collins said. “If you eliminate the vending machine, you assure that someone has a job pouring a drink or serving food. At the same time, you reduce the chance for a person to grab quick snacks. That’s good public policy.”

- Jennifer Hafer


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu