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Answering the Call to Action

Overweight and obesity now ranks second to tobacco as a leading cause of preventable death in the United States . Now reaching epidemic proportions, they are a significant public health threat affecting all ages and ethnic groups. Obesity is a major risk factor for cardiac problems, diabetes, and high blood pressure. The prevalence has more than doubled in the past decade. The cost to U.S. taxpayers, as indicated by the Surgeon General, is over $117 billion per year.

Nova Southeastern University faculty, administrators, and students along with the community are joining forces to help address this critical issue.


The U.S. Surgeon General's issues a call to action to prevent and decrease overweight and obesity. (2001)

The First Federal Obesity Guidelines are issued. (2002)

NSU President Ray Ferrero, Jr. forges a partnership with Broward Coordinating Council to address Quality of Life issues in Broward County . A joint council is formed (2002).

Quality of Life Council members identify obesity as one of the seven most serious issues in the county to address. A committee of council members and other university and community partners are formed to address this area.

President Ferrero and the Broward County Children's Services Board commit funds for faculty grants targeting research addressing quality of life issues.

Governor Jeb Bush forms the Governor's Task Force on the Obesity epidemic. Zachiariah P. Zachariah, M.D., also a member of the NSU Board of Trustees, is appointed chair of the task force. A report follows along with and calls on fellow Floridians and Public Health Advocates to take action by reviewing information and the twenty-two recommendations made following testimony by state and national experts.

The Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson with FDA Deputy Commissioner Lester M. Crawford, D.V.M., Ph.D. and Timothy J. Muris Federal Trade Commission Chairman, releases a new FDA report outlining another element in HHS' comprehensive strategy for combating the epidemic of obesity that threatens the health of millions of Americans.

Committee Goals

  • To collect and disseminate information
  • To stimulate interdisciplinary collaborative research and grants
  • To develop professional and community education programs
  • To stimulate prevention activities


Three faculty and one student member of the obesity committee partnered with other NSU faculty and receive two presidential research grants for studies related to the treatment of obesity. (March 2003).

Nova Southeastern University (NSU) /
Coordinating Council of Broward (CCB) Quality of Life Council
Scholarship Award "The Healthy Kids Project"

James Hibel, Ph.D., Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Alejandra Gonzalez, Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Addresses childhood obesity to prevent or reduce the severity of childhood obesity, which can reduce health care expenditures and improve the quality and longevity of life for the at-risk segment of this population. The program will be presented through collaboration with four YMCAs in Broward and Dade counties, which will serve as sites for the programs.

Nova Southeastern University (NSU)

President's Faculty Research & Development Grant

PDA-Assisted Self-Monitoring in the Interdisciplinary Treatment of Obesity

William J. Kelleher, Ph.D., Center for Psychological Studies
Alan D. Katell, Ph.D., Center for Psychological Studies
Volkert C. deWeijer, DPT, M.S. PT, HPD College of Allied Health
Alice Gandell, M.S., HPD College of Allied Health
Roni Lynn, M.S., HPD College of Allied Health

Did You Know?

The Center for Disease Controls Reports

“In 2000, the most common actual causes of death in the United States were tobacco (435,000), poor diet and physical inactivity (400,000) , alcohol consumption (85,000), microbial agents (e.g., influenza and pneumonia, 75,000), toxic agents (e.g., pollutants and asbestos, 55,000), motor vehicle accidents (43,000), firearms (29,000), sexual behavior (20,000) and illicit use of drugs (17,000).

Actual causes of death are defined as lifestyle and behavioral such as smoking and physical inactivity that contribute to this nation's leading killers including heart disease, cancer, and stroke”.

“Results of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1999–2000 indicate that an estimated 64 percent of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese, defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or more”. 

“Meanwhile, the percent of children who are overweight (defined as BMI-for-age at or above the 95th percentile of the CDC Growth Charts) also continues to increase.  Among children and teens ages 6-19, 15 percent (almost 9 million) are overweight according to the 1999-2000 data, or triple what the proportion was in 1980”.

National Institutes of Health Finalizes Obesity Research Agenda

The Strategic Plan for Obesity Research is a multi-dimensional research agenda to enhance both the development of new research in areas of greatest scientific opportunity and the coordination of obesity research across the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The plan calls for interdisciplinary research teams to bridge the study of behavioral and environmental causes of obesity with the study of genetic and biological causes. The plan addresses the link between obesity and disease, special populations at high risk for obesity, translating basic science into clinical research and community intervention studies, and disseminating results to the public and health professionals. The report is available at .

Nova Southeastern University (NSU)
President's Faculty Research & Development Grant

Surveillance of Childhood Obesity: A Preliminary Investigation of Obesity and Overweight Children in a High–Risk Child and Adolescent Population

David Reitman, Ph.D. NSU Center for Psychological Studies
Beth Zeldis, M.S. NSU Center for Psychological Studies
Curtis Shoffner, Program Director Boys and Girls Club

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