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Studies: Children obese due to a host of unhealthy pressures
Date:9/25/2007

ANN ARBOR, Mich.---Unhealthy options and pressures influence nearly every part of children's daily lives, according to studies released this week in a special supplement of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

The national studies, which include work conducted at the University of Michigan, reveal that, in most middle and high schools across the nation, contracts with soft drink bottling companies give students easy access to sugary beverages.

Low- versus high-income neighborhoods have a higher proportion of their restaurants serving fast foods and have fewer supermarkets and more convenience stores at which to buy their groceries. In the media, television advertisements steer kids to spend their money on junk food, and minority students get considerably more such exposure, the studies showed.

For the special supplement, Bridging the Gap, a national research program funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and based at U-M and the University of Illinois at Chicago, produced a groundbreaking collection of evidence on factors that contribute to the escalating rates of childhood obesity.

The studies offer new insight about how current school policies, neighborhood characteristics and advertising collectively impact the childhood obesity epidemic---and together create an overwhelmingly unhealthy environment for young people.

A study by U-M Distinguished Research Scientist Lloyd Johnston and colleagues finds that the vast majority of middle schools (67 percent) and high schools (83 percent) have contracts with a soft drink bottling company, which in many cases gives students access to soft drinks all day long.

Estimates of the median annual revenue for soft drink contracts in high schools turn out to be $6,000 ($6.48 per student), while for middle schools the annual revenue is about $500 (70 cents per student).

"The financial benefits of school contracts are modest in relation to the he
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Contact: Joe Serwach
jserwach@umich.edu
734-647-1844
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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