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Encouragement goes a long way

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The Obesity Research Center at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City studied the response of youth to exercise when subject to criticism about their body weight

The Obesity Research Center at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City studied the response of youth to exercise when subject to criticism about their body weight. The researchers selected this topic because, although national health guidelines encourage increased physical activity in children, obesity is on the rise at a younger age than ever. Therefore, the team set out to gather data on variables that affect a child's decision to be active or sedentary.

Five hundred seventy-six children between grades five and eight completed a questionnaire inquiring about physical activity patterns, history of weight criticism, and their personal coping skills. While those better able to cope with criticism had a higher likelihood to exercise than children with fewer coping skills, the overall results of the study weren't surprising. Children who were subject to weight criticism by family and peers had negative attitudes toward exercise and reported low activity levels.

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