Why does a child choose French fries over apple
slices in the school cafeteria? Do elementary school students think
exercise is important? How can parents determine if their children
are a healthy weight?
These questions were examined by UNC Asheville faculty and student
researchers, who recently wrapped up a survey of more than 750
Buncombe County third, fourth and fifth graders and some 400 of
their parents. Initial findings of the year-long research project
will be presented at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 30, at UNC
Asheville's Reuter Center. The presentation will be followed by a
panel discussion on the issues surrounding local childhood obesity
and possible solutions to the problem. Panelists will include
Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy; Evelyn Chiang, UNC Asheville
assistant professor of psychology and co-researcher; noted
pediatrician Dr. Olson Huff; and local physical education teacher
Penny Lewis. The event is free and open to the public.
The UNC Asheville researchers surveyed students at six local
schools, including West Buncombe, Avery's Creek, Haw Creek, Vance,
Jones and Dickson elementary schools. The findings showed that more
than 32% of the children in the study were overweight or obese,
nearly the same as the national average. However, some 75% of
parents of overweight children did not believe their child to be
overweight. Instead, these parents reported that the child was a
healthy weight. In addition, only one in 10 parents of obese
children actually saw the child as very overweight; the remaining
parents viewed the child as either a healthy weight or only slight
overweight. Other findings of the study revealed that children who
believe that exercise is costly and makes them miss out on fun
activities report exercising less than children who do not see cost
as so high.
For more information about the event, call the Asheville Graduate
Center at 828/251-6099.