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Study Looks to Find Out Why Obesity Rates in AR are Among Worst in US

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Arkansas Children's Hospital announced a study to determine why the Natural State has high childhood obesity rates.

Doctors want to find out if there is something unique about Arkansas as to why more than 15 percent of kids are obese.

The kids in this study will go through sleep and physical activity tests to determine their overall fitness.

It's not a typical day for Hans, getting strapped up, and hopping on a treadmill at Arkansas Children's Hospital.

He's going through the course, of what 200 kids ages 7-10 will do as part of a new childhood obesity study.

"What are kids' physical activity patterns and types in Arkansas and what are some of the household and environmental and neighborhood characteristics," said Dr. Judith L. Weber, Co-director of the research program.

It's part of ACH's "Arkansas Active Kids!" study. The 1.4 million dollar study funded by the USDA will work to find out why obesity rates in Arkansas are among the worst in the nation.

Identifying factors in kid's lives, including dietary habits, and physical activity to find a trend.

Dr. Weber said, "Pull out the physical activity pieces and find out what makes Arkansas so much fatter than other states."

According to the Center for Disease Control, about 14 percent of high schoolers nationally are obese. In Arkansas, that number is almost 18 percent.

Dr. Weber said, "TV watching in particular has emerged as a clear independent factor into developing obesity."

Comparing Arkansas to other states, the number speak for themselves. In Utah, just under 15 percent of kids watch more than 3 hours of TV per day.

In the Natural State, that number is over 30.

The study will look at kids of all shapes and sizes to find out their physical activity level.

Dr. Elisabet Borsheim said, "See if the ones that are active even though the may be heavier may be better off than the lean."

The study is expected to begin next spring.

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