A team of researchers from the University of Arizona hopes to turn children’s ubiquitous use of computers and social-networking programs into an exercise routine that could put a dent in rising childhood obesity levels, reports the Arizona Daily Star. Using a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the researchers hope to find a way to reach children and educate them about proper health and fitness on their own turf, which is increasingly online. Current programs that target childhood obesity reach only a small portion of the population and have short-lived success, Scott Going, a UA nutritional-science professor who is leading the research, said in a news release. And educating students who use computers for several hours a day about fitness becomes important as research shows that those youths are more likely to gain weight than those who are physically active. The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 16 percent of people ages 2 to 19 are obese, a marked increase from 30 years ago. Using online social-networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, Going and other researchers hope to reach youths informally and engage them in physical activity. Children could integrate fitness information into their online habits by using software known as widgets, which allow for small amounts of online information to be displayed on computers or mobile phones…

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