July 23, 2004
CHAPEL HILL — “Get Kids in Action,” a partnership between the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Public Health and The Gatorade Co., has launched an online body mass index, or BMI, calculator specific to children.The calculator was developed in response to the American Academy of Pediatrics recommendation – in a policy statement in the August 2003 issue of Pediatrics – that BMI serve as the primary diagnostic tool for pediatricians to define childhood overweight and obesity. The new calculator is designed to help parents determine if their child is maintaining a healthy weight or if he or she is currently overweight. Parents simply input a child’s age, gender, weight and height to receive personalized results with tips that can help them take action.

Despite the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation, many parents are unfamiliar with BMI. A recent survey conducted by WirthlinWorldwide showed that seven of 10 parents polled did not know that BMI is a measure of body fatness.

“Many parents are unfamiliar with BMI and even most of those who are aware of the term don’t realize that BMI for children is calculated differently than for adults,” said Dr. Steven H. Zeisel, professor and chair of nutrition at UNC’s schools of public health and medicine.

“This is the first, easy-to-use BMI calculator for children, and our goal is to help parents understand the measurement and take a more active role in their child’s health.”

The online BMI calculator for children can be found on www.getkidsinaction.org. This Web site also features a Nutrition Facts Label Decoder to help parents better understand the information on food labels so they can make more informed food choices, as well as an assessment tool that asks questions about a child’s lifestyle behaviors to help determine if he or she is at risk for becoming overweight.

These tools are some of the first resources developed by Get Kids in Action, a $4 million partnership designed to identify real and proven solutions to increase physical activity to reduce and prevent childhood obesity. Throughout this three-year study, launched a year ago, UNC researchers are working with physicians, families and community leaders. Researchers will test counseling strategies for using BMI in the clinical setting.

“Get Kids in Action recognizes that obesity is a complex social problem and requires a multi-disciplinary solution,” said Chuck Maniscalco, president of The Gatorade Co. “That’s why we support Get Kids in Action and why it stands apart from other child activity programs.”

Gatorade is the official sports drink of the NFL, NBA, WNBA, Major League Baseball and numerous other professional, collegiate and amateur teams and events worldwide. Gatorade is manufactured by PepsiCo Beverages and Foods, a division of PepsiCo.

The UNC School of Public Health’s students and faculty are exploring answers to public health issues ranging from an epidemic of obesity and emerging infectious diseases to Medicare financing and maternal and infant nutrition and birth outcomes, from pharmaceutical trials and health education to sexually transmitted diseases and ozone and air pollution.

The Gatorade-UNC partnership counts toward the Carolina First campaign goal of $1.8 billion. Carolina First is a comprehensive, multi-year private fund-raising campaign to support Carolina’s vision of becoming the nation’s leading public university.


UNC School of Public Health contact: Emily Smith, (919) 966-8498 or emilysmith@unc.edu UNC News Services contact: Deb Saine, (919) 962-8415 or deborah_saine@unc.edu

For further information please contact Emily Smith either by phone at 919-966-8498 or by email at emilysmith@unc.edu


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