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Anti-Obesity Campaign Doesn't Help Teenage Girls

Update Date: May 11, 2012 04:52 PM EDT

A school- based anti-obesity campaign conducted on teenage girls failed to show positive results according to a report from University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia.

A group of 357 eighth-grade Australian girls from low-income areas in New South Wales were engaged in this study. Half the girls were asked to go through an intensive health/weight program at school while the other half was asked not to get any nutritional or exercise help. The study was conducted over a period of one year and the results were disappointing.

Initially all the girls weighed approximately 130 pounds with about four among 10 girls in each group being overweight or obese. Over the year, the girls in the first group underwent a program which included running, walking, nutritional workshops and other regular exercises.

At the end of the year, it was observed that girls from both groups gained a similar amount of weight, without much difference in their body fat either.

One of the main reasons for the inability of this campaign to produce results is been cited as lack of ideal participation. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine quoted researchers for reporting "the girls went to only one-quarter of optional lunchtime exercise sessions, and less than one in ten completed at-home physical activity or nutrition challenges."

According to lead researcher David Lubans, from the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia, girls tend to indulge in very few physical activities during their teenage years.

In an email to Reuters, the researcher said, "We were fighting against a range of psychological, sociological, environmental and biological barriers. In the future, we need to make the programs more appealing and exciting and present information in a way that is meaningful to adolescent girls."

Preventive medicine researcher Robert Klesges, from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Memphis states that though anti-obesity programs have worked well on adults in the past, their effect on teenagers have left researchers frustrated.

"The common belief is: nothing works," he told Reuter Health. "And we've got to get beyond that. We need to think outside the box."

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