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University of Maryland to engage school teachers, students in childhood obesity prevention efforts

$5 million federal grant will be used to develop wellness policies and fight obesity in Maryland public schoo

The University of Maryland School of Medicine will use a $5 million federal grant to tackle childhood obesity by helping teachers, parents and students come up with ways to practice healthy habits in schools.

The school will announce Wednesday it has received the funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to develop ways to help implement wellness policies the schools were required by federal law to establish.

"It really helps them feel like they have more buy in when they come up with the ideas," said Dr. Erin Hager, associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. "Having students involved in the health promoting decisions can be very important."

Nationwide obesity in children has more than doubled in the last 30 years, while obesity among adolescents has more than tripled, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

About 8 percent of Baltimore middle school students described themselves as slightly or very overweight in the 2013 Youth Risk Factor Behavior Survey. In 2015, 34.4 percent of high school students were either obese or overweight in Baltimore City, according to the CDC.

amcdaniels@baltsun.com

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