Participant in the 2012 ACM Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study
The Status of Nutritional Indicators and Risk Factors among Children and Adolescents in San Carlos, Costa Rica
Note: This is a joint presentation by Jessica Meyer, Chloe Souza, and Maggie Swift. Read more about their project and experience in Costa Rica.
Childhood obesity is becoming an increasingly prominent and dangerous issue worldwide. Although much is known about related health problems, psychosocial issues, and medical costs of obesity, little has been discovered about specific risk factors, especially in developing countries. To address this issue, we developed a research project that would serve as a survey of the general health status (underweight, normal weight, or overweight) of public school-aged children in the San Carlos region of northern Costa Rica. Our advisor, a physician and member of the board of public health for the country, helped us develop a project that would allow us to measure the weight, height, abdominal circumference, and BMI of children during daily school visits.
At left: Video of Jessica Meyer's presentation with Chloe Souza and Maggie Swift at the Symposium.
Between the three researchers working on the project (Chloe Souza, Jessica Meyer, and Maggie Swift) we worked with over 2,000 students, ages 5-20, and collected valuable data on a larger scale than had previously been possible. In addition to the anthropometric data, we asked the students and their parents to fill out a survey used to correlate health status with several proposed risk factors – birth weight, screen time, and physical activity. We correlated all of the risk factors to health status, and our hope was that these correlations could be used to inform legislation and policies that would help develop healthier lifestyles for rural children.
Post graduation plans: Doing something really fun all day long. Exactly what that is, I don’t know.
The best thing that I did while on an off-campus program was … hold a sloth, see the most beautiful sunset in the whole wide world, and learn how to cut open a pipa with a machete.
What is one word or phrase that best describes your experience off-campus? Pura Vida, Mae!
Top 3 reasons why you chose to go off-campus:
1. I wanted to apply my academics in a new environment.
2. To improve my Spanish through language immersion.
3. To experience a new culture, beyond the experience of a temporary tourist.
If you woke up tomorrow as an animal, what would you be and why? A sea otter because they are the best.
If you could travel anywhere where would you go? Nepal. What a view!
If you could learn to speak any language what would it be? Arabic
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