AUFSI Obesity Working Group



Why an Obesity Working Group?

Alabama has the third highest rate of adult obesity in the nation, tied with Arkansas and behind only Louisiana and Mississippi. In Alabama, 35.7 percent of adults are obese, up from 33 percent in 2012 when the Obesity Working Group came together. A startling 44.1 percent of black Alabamians were considered obese in 2016, and if obesity rates continue on the current trajectory, Alabama could have statewide adult obesity rates above 60 percent by 2030. Overall, two-thirds of Alabama’s adults are either overweight or obese, and 14 of the state’s counties have obesity rates of more than 40 percent. In fact, two counties have obesity rates approaching 50 percent. Trends in childhood obesity are not encouraging; Alabama has the sixth highest rate of overweight or obese youths who are aged from 10 to 17 (35.5 percent). Auburn University has numerous experts whose focus in some way is obesity and the health-related concerns related to obesity; the Auburn University Food Systems Institute (AUFSI) has brought these specialists from a variety of disciplines together to encourage them to share their ideas and research. (Click on the map to go to the CDC website for more information.)


Research Spotlight

Childhood Obesity and Kids-Check Screening

Nationwide, nearly one third of school-aged children are considered overweight or obese. In at least one county in Alabama that percentage is much higher, according to the Kid-Check project.Kid- Check is an outreach project that partners schools of nursing with public school systems to provide health screening for school-age children and identify health issues that might interfere with learning

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The association between body weight, value of the future and dietary behavior

People who are overweight insist they want to lose pounds, but they often fail to limit food intake or get the necessary exercise. Numerous factors affect their decision not to do what they need to do, which seems irrational. That conundrum led Dr. Kim Garza to ask whether people who are overweight or obese value the future differently from people who are a healthy weight, and ask how this difference might be related to dietary behaviors.

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A mobile health and wellness coaching intervention 

Health and wellness coaching (HWC) has been shown to facilitate behavior change in various populations. Many HWC interventions for weight loss have effectively used remote communication between coaches and participants, but mobile HWC (mHWC), which is delivered wholly via mobile technology and uses text-based messaging, has not been explored for weight loss. Given the wide adoption of smartphones, text-messaging, mobile applications, and wearable devices, this approach is highly feasible and worth exploring.

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Using GIS to map the 'food environment'

Yingru Li’s findings suggest that policymakers and planners need to improve community food environments in low-income, minority communities

When the average person hears about GIS, he or she is probably thinking about getting directions from one point to another without getting lost (that’s actually GPS). For Dr. Yingru Li, GIS—geographic information system—is a sophisticated tool for studying childhood obesity.

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