Campus News

UGA to play major role in obesity fight

World-renowned obesity expert Dr. William H. Dietz presented an overview of the policies needed to combat obesity in Georgia and throughout the U.S. at a recent UGA seminar.

Dietz, director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that successful obesity policy and research should focus on identifying interventions that get large numbers of people to eat better and become more physically activity.

“We need a broad perspective,” he said. “The greatest impacts, we assume, are going to be at the federal, state, community and institutional level.”

Dietz emphasized that state- and community-led initiatives are important in establishing strong policies that promote healthy behaviors. He mentioned day cares, schools and hospitals as institutions that could benefit from strong local interventions.

“I would argue that institutional and community changes are not only ripe, but things that UGA could readily intervene in, given the focus of this university,” Dietz said.

New studies are needed to determine which interventions are most successful in changing the behaviors that have made more than 65 percent of the adults and 40 percent of children in Georgia either overweight or obese.

He identified UGA’s Cooperative Extension and public service and outreach programs as established services that can mobilize resources to help combat obesity more effectively.

Since its launch in January, the UGA Obesity Initiative has begun researching and preparing interventions to benefit community members.