At the University of Tennessee Science Forum on Friday, Sept. 26, assistant professor of nutrition Sarah Colby shared her plan to combat obesity on college campuses and promote healthier behaviors among college students through a project called “Get Fruved.”
Colby is the brain behind the “Get Fruved” project.
Earlier this year, Colby received a five-million dollar grant from the US Department of Agriculture to fund the project that will serve as a future model for other campuses to tackle college obesity issues.
“We want to be able to reach the students in a way that works for them and will help them develop healthier habits,” Colby said.
Colby’s grant proposal was selected out of 80 other proposals from different universities.
The project will use a non-diet approach to help with obesity problems on campus. Instead of generating a selective diet for the students, the project will reach students through messages that support healthy behavior and body image. Students will be tackling issues such as healthy eating habits, exercise, stress management, and overall well-being. The students will largely be the advocates for this project.
Colby explained that over 1,000 students will be working on the project to plan interventions that could range from creating stress-free workshops on campus through gardening to making healthy food accessible to all students.
“This is community based participatory research project (CBPR). The students will be equal partners with the involved faculty members in defining the problem, collecting data, interpreting data, and finding solutions that work,” Colby said.
Colby added that students created the term “fruved” as a way to encourage people to eat more FRUits and VEgetables.
The Get Fruved project focuses on five teams, (Spinach, Carrot, Banana, Grapes, and Tomato), that are lead by a specific costumed character. The characters will appear in various locations on campus, as well as the newspaper and social media to deliver the messages to promote healthy behavior.
“The interventions will be developed and planned by college students because they are the ones who know what their campus environment needs and how that environment can help support healthier habits,” Colby said.
After the Get Fruved campaign has been fully developed in the collegiate system, college students will begin to work with high school teams to promote the same healthy habits. Eventually the high school students will work with middle schools, and middle schools will be working with elementary school students.
UT will be working with 13 other universities across the country on the Get Fruved project, as well as the UT Institute of Agriculture.
The UT Science Forum meets every Friday from 12-1 p.m. in the Thompson Boling Arena, room C-D.
Edited by Ryan McGill