Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

A true challenge for any superhero: Can comic books combat childhood obesity?

Date:
August 2, 2011
Source:
University of Cincinnati
Summary:
New research challenges kids to develop comic book characters who communicate healthy messages. The results indicate those messages were inspiring.

The newest superhero nemesis isn't the Joker or Kryptonite or the Red Skull. With a little knowledge, the latest superhero weapons can be much easier to develop than X-ray vision or flying faster than a speeding bullet. Positive results are emerging from a University of Cincinnati research project aimed at curbing childhood obesity.

The project was the doctoral research of Paul Branscum, who recently completed his PhD in health education from the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH).

The project challenged 71 third, fourth and fifth-grade students to create their own comic books with healthy messages in mind. Branscum says early results indicate that the children were adopting those healthy behaviors.

Students were inspired to think of real and fictional characters as they wrote their stories, plus, they were encouraged to blend the following four healthy behaviors into their creations as well as their lifestyles:

  • Participate in at least one hour of daily physical activity.
  • Consume five daily servings of fruits and vegetables.
  • Consume sugar-free drinks and water instead of sugar-sweetened drinks.
  • Participate in no more than two hours of screen time per day -- including TV, the Internet and video games.

The study was conducted over a three-month period. Children were enrolled in 12 Columbus, Ohio, area YMCA sponsored after-school programs. The gender breakdown of the group was about even.

Branscum says the children's Body Mass Index (BMI) remained about the same following the project. However, he says three behaviors -- consuming more fruits and vegetables, physical activity and consuming water and sugar-free drinks -- "increased significantly throughout the program."

Furthermore, Branscum says the children reported increased confidence (or self-efficacy) in their ability to select health-related behaviors.

"Comic books can do a lot of neat things," Branscum says. "One of the things that I like about them is that they can explain complicated issues in a way that people can understand, by combining words and pictures."

In the past, Branscum says that popular comic books have carried kid-friendly messages about choosing healthy behaviors, but the effects of those campaigns have been difficult to measure.

Branscum says he is now interested in pursuing a larger grant and teaming up with a major comic book company, such as Marvel or DC Comics, to create a comic book line geared toward promoting healthy behaviors. "This was a brief intervention program, so I really want to expand it and also get parents on board," Branscum says.

Like the job of a superhero, the battle against childhood obesity is of utmost national importance. National figures indicate childhood obesity has more than tripled over the past 30 years. "We used to call type two diabetes 'adult onset diabetes,' but we don't call it that anymore, because we're seeing it develop more with children and adolescents," Branscum says. "If current obesity rates continue to grow, we're going to see a country that's reporting nearly 100 percent obesity in another 40 years -- it's mind boggling."

The project was supported by a $1,000 grant from the national UnitedHealth HEROES service-learning grant program under the UnitedHealth Group and Youth Service America. The program awards grants to youth to create and implement programs to battle childhood obesity and promote overall health. The project was also awarded a faculty mentoring grant from the UC College of Education, Criminal Justice, and Human Services (CECH).

Branscum, who is from Sharonville and is a Princeton High School graduate, is now among the new health education faculty at the University of Oklahoma in the Health and Exercise Science Department. His appointment as assistant professor begins in August.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Cincinnati. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Cincinnati. "A true challenge for any superhero: Can comic books combat childhood obesity?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110802113623.htm>.
University of Cincinnati. (2011, August 2). A true challenge for any superhero: Can comic books combat childhood obesity?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110802113623.htm
University of Cincinnati. "A true challenge for any superhero: Can comic books combat childhood obesity?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110802113623.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Health Insurers' Profits Slide

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 30, 2014) Obamacare-related costs were said to be behind the profit plunge at Wellpoint and Humana, but Wellpoint sees the new exchanges boosting its earnings for the full year. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Peace Corps Pulls Workers From W. Africa Over Ebola Fears

Newsy (July 30, 2014) The Peace Corps is one of several U.S.-based organizations to pull workers out of West Africa because of the Ebola outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Weather Kills 2K A Year, But Storms Aren't The Main Offender

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Health officials say 2,000 deaths occur each year in the U.S. due to weather, but it's excessive heat and cold that claim the most lives. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

Concern Grows Over Worsening Ebola Crisis

AFP (July 30, 2014) Pan-African airline ASKY has suspended all flights to and from the capitals of Liberia and Sierra Leone amid the worsening Ebola health crisis, which has so far caused 672 deaths in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Duration: 00:43 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins