Susan J. Matthees '04

Analysis of Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs

Obesity in the United States has increased dramatically in the last 20 years and by the year 2050, it is expected that almost all Americans will be overweight. Obesity increases an individual’s risk for cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

The estimated financial burden of obesity is $117 billion per year, which represents 4.7 percent of the total (public and private sector) US health care expenditures in the year 2000. The significant financial and health costs of obesity make intervention crucial, but there are few successful models for reducing obesity.

Targeting children and adolescent in prevention programs provides the greatest impact opportunity because such programs can teach lifelong weight control and prevent children from becoming obese adults. The most successful obesity prevention programs take place in the schools and combine several elements including a familial component, nutrition education, and physical activity.

Research Advisor: Amy Olson, PhD, RDN, LD