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Research Volunteer Call: Overweight girls needed for pioneering York U research study

Research Volunteer Call: Overweight girls needed for pioneering York U research study

CIHR-funded study will run at the Hospital for Sick Children

Are obese girls overweight because they eat poorly and don't get enough exercise or because their bodies don't burn off fat properly? asked March 10:

Seems no one knows. But researchers at York University want to find out.

They are conducting the first study in the world that looks at how girls burn fat, according to Professor Michael Riddell [School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health], who leads pioneering work on diabetes.

While there have been some studies done on how boys burn fat, with conflicting results, no one has looked at how girls burn fat, particularly during puberty, he said. "It's amazing there's so little done on females," Riddell said. "We're doing cutting-edge research. We're trying to identify why some girls are overweight or obese."

The study is part of a larger [project] funded by the federal government's Canadian Institutes of Health Research being run by the Hospital for Sick Children.

To conduct their study, the York University researchers need to look at the diets and exercise levels of girls between the ages of eight and 16. While they haven't had trouble finding lean girls to participate, recruiting overweight and obese girls has been a struggle.

With the body image problems girls face today, that isn't surprising, Riddell said.

But the girls' identities and all the information researchers gather about them is kept confidential, said graduate student Lisa Chu, who is running the project at York.

Girls who participate in the study will visit the university twice.

During the first visit, they will complete a questionnaire about their exercise and diet habits on week days and weekends and take part in an eight- to- 10-minute cycling test that gets progressively more difficult. The second visit involves a longer but less intense cycling evaluation.

Chu is hoping girls interested in participating may take advantage of March Break next week to volunteer.

The incentive to participate in the study is receiving a custom-made fitness regimen, hopefully something the girls can rely on to lead healthier lives for years to come, Riddell said.

"Having a custom exercise evaluation is something only the very rich can (usually) afford," he said.

Participants will also receive a $20 iTunes voucher.

To volunteer for the study, email Lisa Chu at or call Michael Riddell 416-736-2100, ext. 40493.

Posted by Elizabeth Monier-Williams, research communications officer, with files courtesy of YFile – York University’s daily e-bulletin.