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Teeny Little Steps

“The surge in obesity in this country is nothing short of a public health crisis, and it’s threatening our children, it’s threatening our families, and more importantly it’s threatening the future of this nation.”

— First Lady Michelle Obama

When the doorbell chimes, the toddlers instantly forget about the movie flickering on the giant TV screen. Scrambling over the plush sofa and scooting past the coffee table, the five preschoolers at Cozy Corners family childcare home cluster curiously by the door to see who’s here.

These pint-sized Albany residents have, after all, seen Beverly Hills Chihuahua before. What they haven’t seen are the mysterious high-tech gadgets Oregon State University doctoral student Kelly Rice starts unloading from her  backpack soon after childcare provider Michelle Hoyt ushers her in.

“What are they, what are they?” the kids clamor, crowding around.

“They’re called accelerometers,” Rice tells the wide-eyed boys and girls, who range in age from 2 to 5. “They tell us how much activity you guys are getting while you’re here. Who wants to be first?”

“Me! Me!” Riley yells.

“OK, Riley, come on over here.” She wraps a black elastic belt around Riley’s waist and cinches up the Velcro. “We need to make it nice and snug because the last thing we need is a floppy accelerometer,” she tells him.

The matchbook-sized electronic monitor on his left hip will keep track of activity levels (sedentary, light, moderate, vigorous) by recording the frequency and magnitude of movement. Riley and his playmates will wear the accelerometers for a week during Phase One of an OSU study led by Associate Professor Stewart Trost. This initial activity data will form a baseline, along with each child’s body mass index (the ratio of height to weight, used to estimate the proportion of fat to lean tissue), for gauging progress at the study’s end.

Complete article by Lee Sherman appears at terra and includes video, audio, and Q & A.

See tips for healthy nutrition and physical activity for kids.