Project uses video technology to curb child obesity

In Bexar County, Texas, where the five pilot schools are located, 33 percent of children living in poverty are obese.
Health officials trying to reduce obesity and improve eating habits at five San Antonio elementary schools unveiled a $2 million research project May 11 that will photograph students’ lunch trays before they sit down to eat and later take a snapshot of the leftovers.

A computer program then analyzes the photos to identify every piece of food on the plate—right down to how many ounces are left in that lump of mashed potatoes—and calculates the number of calories each student consumed.

The project, funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, is the first of its kind in the nation. The cameras, about the size of pocket flashlights, point only toward the trays and don’t photograph the students. Researchers say about 90 percent of parents gave permission to record every morsel of food their child eats.…Read More

Health education gets a federal boost

Schools step up to the plate and take an active role in Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative.
Schools are encouraged to take an active role in Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" initiative.

Roughly a third of American children are overweight, researchers say, and 17 percent are obese—a condition that increases their risk of getting diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other illnesses.

Many health experts point to the amount of “screen time” that today’s students are logging as a key contributing factor in the child obesity epidemic. Now, backed by a campaign launched by First Lady Michelle Obama earlier this year, some schools are using the same technologies that have many kids glued to their cell phones and iPods for hours at a time as useful instructional tools in their health-education programs.

To encourage students to adopt a healthier lifestyle, one recent lesson at Aaron Academy, a private special-education school in New York, had students research the nutritional content of popular food items online, then download this information to their mobile computers.…Read More