Dr. Gutin, an exercise physiologist at MCG's Georgia Prevention Institute, left April 1 for Spain to spend six weeks helping health care providers at six public universities develop intervention strategies.
Dr. Louis Moreno, pediatrician at the University of Zaragoza, is coordinating his country's initiative to reverse increasing obesity rates as well as a 20-nation survey on childhood obesity.
"It's becoming as big a problem as it is here," says Dr. Gutin, who will lecture to faculty and students on the health consequences of obesity and low fitness as well as intervention strategies to prevent them.
The Fulbright Program, administered by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, matches countries looking for expertise in certain areas with U.S. faculty and professionals who can provide it.
Dr. Gutin has been studying fitness and fatness since the 1970s, well before its lifelong impact on health was understood. "We were interested in being fit for its own value: being able to perform well in physical activities and sports," says Dr. Gutin. One of his earliest studies had children run 1.2 miles around a track. "We wanted to see the factors that led them to perform better or worse in this kind of running event. The dominant factor, more important than any other physiological factor, was how fat they were. It was a rather surprising and clear-cut finding."
Years of research and the growing waistlines of Americans have clarified the true impact of fatness and unfitness. "Now, most epidemiologists would say it's more a predictor of future mortality than anything else, including cholesterol level, blood pressure, or an abnormal electrocardiogram." Smoki
Contact: Toni Baker
Medical College of Georgia