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Seminar Explores Teen Obesity

June 10, 2014

The Nutrition Sciences Department at the College of Nursing and Health Professions has initiated a monthly seminar series. In the spring, the department invited Katherine W. Bauer, an assistant professor of public health at Temple University and a member of the Temple Center for Obesity Research and Education, to present to students, faculty, staff, and other members of the Drexel and local communities. Her talk was titled “Preventing Adolescent Obesity: The Why and the How.”

Bauer’s research focuses on identifying and intervening upon social and behavioral determinants of obesity during adolescence. Much of her work explores the role of families.

The four main issues she outlined for the Drexel audience during her seminar included trends in adolescent obesity, shared and unique risk factors among adolescents, familial predictors of adolescent obesity, and intervention strategies involving families.

Bauer reported that, unlike younger age groups, the 12-18 year-old age range is seeing an upward trend in the prevalence of obesity today.

She went on to address questions such as “Do adolescents get heavy as young children and then remain heavy, or does something happen during adolescence?” and, “Should the focus be on treatment or on preventative models?” Only a small percentage of teens can access treatment because it is limited. Treatment works best when it is based in the community, school, and family. This area has huge potential for preventative action according to Bauer, because there are plenty of universal risk factors like fast food consumption and television watching that specifically attract individuals in this adolescent age group.