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New obesity campaign aimed at kids reframes narrative around the disease

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Posted at 4:08 PM, May 18, 2021

Childhood obesity is now linked to increased stroke risk, according to new research published in Stroke, a journal of the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association.

Researchers looked at nearly 2 million people's medical history and found those who were in an overweight category as an adolescent were twice as likely to have a stroke before the age of 50.

Obese children were almost three-and-a-half times more likely to have a stroke before turning 50.

Another surprising finding was that it wasn't type 2 diabetes that explained the higher risk, just greater amounts of excess fat.

Two fictional characters names Ezra and Charlie are part of a new campaign called Obecity USA, which depicts cities all over America.

“What we're using those characters for is to try to help people to understand obesity, for what it is, which is a very complex disease with genetic biological origins, as well as complex behavioral and environmental determinants as well,” said Leanne Redman, Ph.D. with the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

Created by Pennington Biomedical in Louisiana, an obesity and diabetes research center, the goal is to re-frame the narrative around the disease.

“And what it does, is it brings you to the current reality of where we live, so as you're navigating the website, you realize oh I’m already here,” said Redman.

Pennington wants obesity to become a household topic, so people feel comfortable talking to their doctors.

The research institute was involved in trials for all the drugs currently approved to treat obesity. They also have proven lifestyle programs, but there's still much more to learn.

“Most people can talk about a time when they were really successfully losing weight, but it's been very difficult for them to keep it off and that's because the biology changes,” said Redman.

Go to to learn about the strategy to reverse U.S. obesity rates back to what they were in the 1940s.