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REF NO.: 75

SUBJECT: Memorial researchers share their expertise on childhood obesity

DATE: Nov. 17,2011

            It’s estimated that one in four children in Newfoundland and Labrador is obese or overweight – conditions associated with high blood pressure, high cholesterol and increased incidence of asthma and Type 2 diabetes. What’s the root of this epidemic? Can childhood obesity be prevented? And how do we help children and families who are dealing with obesity?
            Three Memorial researchers will be delving into these issues in an informal and interactive Café Scientifique on Sunday, Nov. 20, from 2-4 p.m. at the Suncor Energy Fluvarium.
            Dr. Guang Sun, associate professor in the Faculty of Medicine, is the lead investigator on a study examining the genetic determinants of obesity. He is leading the first-of-its-kind study into whether or not children in Newfoundland and Labrador are genetically predisposed to obesity. Dr. Sun will be sharing information on how our genetics may be influencing the fat in our body stores.
            Dr. Laurie Twells, School of Pharmacy and Faculty of Medicine, and her research colleagues have discovered a small but significant relationship between exclusive breastfeeding and preschool obesity. Their research found that exclusive breastfeeding to four months appeared to be a protective factor for obesity in preschoolers. In addition to talking about her research, Dr. Twells will also be sharing information about predictors for obesity and why childhood obesity is such a concern. 
            Dr. Antony Card, School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, is on the board of directors for Physical and Health Education Canada and is a co-founder of the Eastern Active Schools program – a non-competitive, simple and fun program that brings physical activity into the classroom. Dr. Card will be talking about family activities and strategies as well as societal level changes that promote an active, healthy lifestyle as a method of fighting childhood obesity.
            The event is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research Café Scientifique program. A Café Scientifique is not a lecture; it’s a place for researchers to come together with members of the community to share information and ideas related to community issues in a relaxed group discussion.         
          The event is open to anyone with an interest in childhood obesity. Light refreshments will be served. Attendees are asked to confirm their attendance by calling 709-687-9343 or emailing mcwhelan@mun.ca. More information is available online at www.mun.ca/research/cafescientifique.php.

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For more information, contact Meaghan Whelan, communications co-ordinator, Office of the Vice-President (Research), Memorial University of Newfoundland, mcwhelan@mun.ca or (709) 864-4073/687-9243.

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