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U of M's Tucker Center's Fall Distinguished Lecture to highlight health disparities among minority females

U of M scholars to discuss the critical role of physical activity in obesity prevention

October 15, 2010

The Tucker Center for Research on Girls & Women in Sport will hold its Fall 2010 Distinguished Lecture from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, at the Hubert H. Humphrey Center, 301 19th Ave. S., Minneapolis. This free lecture, titled "Reducing Obesity among Minority Females: The Critical Role of Physical Activity," will feature these three U of M scholars: Beth Lewis, Daheia J. Barr-Anderson, and Dianne Neumark-Sztainer.

Over the past three decades, the prevalence of obesity has dramatically increased in American adults and children, with the highest increases among minority females. Nearly half of African American (46 percent) and Latina (42 percent) girls ages 12 to 19 are overweight or obese, compared to less than 3 percent of white girls. Among adults, 80 percent of African American and Latina women are considered overweight or obese. To address this national epidemic, weight gain prevention efforts for girls and women of color are urgently needed. In this lecture, a trio of prominent University of Minnesota scholars will discuss the latest research on the critical role that physical activity plays in obesity-prevention strategies and policies as well as evidence-based, culturally appropriate approaches toward increasing physical activity among women and girls of color.

The speakers are:

Beth Lewis, an assistant professor in the U of M's School of Kinesiology and also an adjunct assistant professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University Medical School. Lewis is also a licensed psychologist. Lewis received her doctorate in clinical psychology and completed her internship and postdoctoral training in behavioral interventions for exercise. Her groundbreaking research focuses on how to motivate sedentary adults, especially women, to become more physically active along with examining effective interventions for physical activity promotion. Lewis has authored several peer-review articles in top-tier journals and serves as the Principal Investigator on grants funded by the National Institutes of Health. Currently, Lewis is the principal investigator on a study examining the effect of exercise on preventing postpartum depression.

Daheia J. Barr-Anderson, an assistant professor in the School of Kinesiology at the U of M and trained in epidemiology. Her research interests focus on physical activity, sedentary behaviors, and obesity prevention in children and adolescents -- particularly interventions that incorporate both physical activity and nutrition to achieve healthy outcomes and to decrease racial/ethnic health inequalities. Barr-Anderson's research examining the environmental influences of physical activity and obesity among adolescent girls has resulted in grants from General Mills and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She was recently named a Scholar at the Deborah E. Powell Center for Women's Health.

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, a professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health, and an adjunct professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the U of M. Her award-winning research focuses on adolescent nutrition and the prevention of weight-related problems including eating disorders, unhealthy weight control behaviors, body dissatisfaction and obesity. Neumark-Sztainer has published more than 250 articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals, served as the Principal Investigator on several federally-funded grants and has received numerous honors for her innovative work including prestigious awards from the National Eating Disorders Association, the International Academy for Eating Disorders, and the Eating Disorders Coalition.

The lecture is free and open to the public.For those unable to attend, the event will also be available live online ( More information about the event is available at the Tucker Center web site:

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