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Pediatrics. 2009 Sep;124 Suppl 1:S63-72. doi: 10.1542/peds.2008-3586I.

Assessing BMI in West Virginia schools: parent perspectives and the influence of context.

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West Virginia University, Health Research Center, PO Box 9136, Suite 1400 HSC-South, Morgantown, WV 26506-9136, USA.


West Virginia is a state at the forefront of the obesity epidemic and one that is experiencing immense health and economic costs as a result. The childhood obesity research discussed in this article was conducted over the past 10 years through 4 projects that range from a school-based cardiovascular risk screening program to an evaluation of state legislation targeting childhood obesity via modifications in the school environment. In the course of these projects, we have collected BMI and other health indices on students, provided feedback to students and their parents, and assessed the obesity and health-related beliefs of West Virginians through individual and focus-group interviews and questionnaires. Our work has been accomplished by using an active-consent process, and BMI has typically been only 1 component of the comprehensive health data we collect and feedback we provide. Collaboration with state and local partners and regular dissemination of our findings have been key elements of the approach taken. The research and policy implications of our findings and approach are discussed.

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