Friday, October 9, 2009

Can’t Lose Weight Even with Exercise? UMass Amherst Researchers to Figure Out Why

Exercise researchers have long wondered why two people following the same exercise program can get different results, one losing weight and the other not, for example. This is one of the questions to be explored by Patty Freedson, chair of the department of kinesiology and leader of a research team at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, who recently received a two-year, $985,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

The NIH grant is “a real feather in the cap of our research group, the School of Public Health and Health Sciences and of the university,” says Freedson, because the proposal scored in the top two percent nationwide, one of only 200 requests funded from among 21,000 applications. She declines to take all the credit for this success, noting that “you don’t receive a grant like this without every team member’s hard work and full support.” Besides Freedson, the research group includes two other faculty members, statistician John Staudenmayer and exercise physiologist Barry Braun, plus doctoral students Sarah Kosey and Kate Lyden, and proposal editor Meg Bouvier.

The study begins just one year after the government issued the first-ever federally mandated Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (PAGA) in October 2008, Freedson notes. “Members of the PAGA science committee point out that our limited knowledge of the dose-response relationship between physical activity and health is in part related to the poor measures researchers have used to assess physical activity dose,” she says. “Our study will address this.”

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