CORVALLIS, Ore- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports the number of obese teens has tripled in the last thirty years. Oregon State University received nearly $5,000,000 to stunt obesity growth through prevention research.
Nutrition specialists say the real challenge is getting teens to make the necessary lifestyle changes as they become young adults.
"If they do go to the fast food restaurant how do they make better choices even if other people aren't," says Melinda Manore, a Professor of Nutrition at OSU.
Manore and Siew Sun Wong are conducting a five year obesity study with 500 4-H soccer players (ages 15 to 19) that will be split into three groups.
Why focus on active teens? Wong says, "they may be active and they may still be in a healthy, normal weight - but they may not be eating quality food."
One part of this study will be teaching students how to fill their plates in an atmosphere where they get to now make their own choices, healthy or not.
Manore says adding a virtual component to the study will give students instant feedback. "I think we can use the virtual world to motivate them in real time."
They'll wear electronic devices that will track their every move.
The study will begin in June. Researchers are still figuring out how the virtual component of the study will work.