Live Well RVA is a research study at VCU for African Americans, ages 18 to 25, to tackle youth obesity.
RICHMOND (WRIC) - 14 percent of all young adults are obese in Richmond and there's a new effort to tackle this major health issue.
Live Well RVA is a research study at VCU for African Americans, ages 18 to 25, funded by the National Institutes of Health.
"This is a really high risk time for unhealthy weight related behaviors and obesity yet there are not programs developed to date that target this age group specifically and this is one of the first attempts to do that," says principal investigator Jessica LaRose,, Ph.D., assistant professor of social and behavioral health at VCU.
LaRose says it's not just a diet plan or fitness plan. It's a lifestyle change plan tailored to meet each participant's needs.
Over 12 weeks, members of the research team show them how to boost activity in their daily lives wherever they are, using whatever time they have, without depending on a costly gym membership.
"To have them obtain skills that they can do without equipment and do in their home," LaRose says.
Heidi Hertz, obesity prevention coordinator with the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth, applauds Live Well RVA for helping young adults most at risk for hypertension, diabetes and other conditions related to weight.
"We have almost 11 percent of our high school youth are considered obese, setting themselves up for hardship when they become young adults and go into adulthood," she says.
Even taking small steps can make big differences.
"They really have a lot of power with their own behavior," LaRose says.
Live Well RVA is enrolling African American participants, ages 18 to 25 through mid-April.
For more information about Live Well RVA or other health studies at VCU, go to optforhealth.org.