Childhood obesity is of growing concern in the United States. The number of children medically categorized as obese is rising every single year, as is the number of children diagnosed with diabetes. According to Paul Branscum, a PhD in Health Education, if we continue in the current trend we could be seeing a rate of nearly 100 percent obesity within the next 40 years.

 

What can be done to combat this trend? Educating children and establishing healthy nutrition and exercise habits early is one way. As part of his doctoral research, Branscum recently led a project to determine effective methods of communicating this information to children.

 

As part of the project, children in grades 3-5 were asked to create comic books and comic book characters. These characters were to embody healthy, fit lifestyles including daily physical activity, eating fruits and vegetables, drinking water instead of sugary drinks, and cutting down on television and computer time.

 

According to Branscum, while the children in the study did not lose weight, they did establish much healthier habits and displayed increased ability to make healthy choices for themselves.

 

Branscum is excited about the prospect of using comic books to simply and directly communicate positive messages to children. He is now pursuing creating a partnership with a major comic book company to establish national comic books promoting healthy lifestyles.

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