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Features May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2
   

Mirror, Mirror...

 
     

It’s never easy to discuss overweight children with their parents, not even for a doctor. So, Jeannie Huang, M.D., assistant professor, UC San Diego Department of Pediatrics, is testing a device called the “persuasive mirror,” (made by Accenture Technology Labs, France). Facing a mirror, a viewer will see his or her image change as the computer program manipulates weight gain or loss.

“ All too often, images are used to promote or instill unhealthy behaviors,” says Huang. “We decided to study whether images could be used to manage weight and body image in a healthy way.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, nearly one in five children in the United States is obese and childhood obesity is one of the most common problems seen by pediatricians.

“ We performed this study to see if weight perception could motivate parents to change a child’s behaviors,” says Huang, “and we saw a dramatic increase in parental support for healthy eating and physical activity behaviors.”

Contributors to Making Waves: Kim Edwards, Tiffany Fox, Raymond Hardie, Pat JaCoby, Annie Reisewitz

 

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