Obesity in America is no laughing matter. The number of obese in our country is now 31% of the population, with 63% considered overweight. In 20 years, childhood obesity has more than tripled, says the National Center for Health Statistics about this growing concern. Being overweight or obese increases the risk of many diseases and health conditions—hypertension, type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, cholesterol levels, and some cancers.
To determine the causes and possible prevention of obesity, Stefani Norrbin, winner of last year’s Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Award, is now performing research in Dr. Lisa Eckel’s Psychology Lab, in preparation for her Honors in the Major thesis.
She explains, “After my senior year in high school, I became a personal trainer at Gold’s Gym. Through my clients I became very aware of the health issues concerning obesity. It is an extremely relevant issue in today’s society because of the degree to which the environment versus genetics contributes to the development of obesity.”
Stefani recently gave an oral presentation at Florida State’s annual Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium, which is sponsored by the offices of the Vice President for Research, Undergraduate Studies, University Honors, and the Phi Kappa Phi honor society. Dr. Eckel served as her faculty advisor. In Stefani’s presentation, entitled “Impact of Exercise on Diet-induced Obesity in Female Rats,” she hypothesized, “female rats are less able than male rats to use exercise as a means of curbing diet-induced obesity. This may help to explain the higher incidence of obesity in women, relative to men.”
While a junior in high school, Stefani began working in Dr. Eckel’s lab. “I had just finished taking Advanced Placement Psychology. Dr. Eckel needed some extra help during the summer so I volunteered and continued working with her through my high school’s externship program.” Stefani says of her favorite professor, “She dedicates time to students both inside and outside of the classroom, providing constant guidance and advice.”
Asked why she is majoring in Psychology when her future plan is to become an attorney, Stefani replies, “Psychology teaches us how to understand one another. Being able to relate to others is important in any profession. As an attorney, you must deal with people on a day-to-day basis.”