GEMSA Program to Guide Young Girls'
Eating By Alfredo Flores March 23, 2006
Studies at the Children's Nutrition Research Center (CNRC)
in Houston, Texas, show a link between preteen girls' vegetable consumption and
The CNRC is operated by the Baylor
College of Medicine in cooperation with
Texas Children's Hospital.
The center is funded by the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), the U.S. Department of Agriculture's principal
scientific research agency.
The CNRC was one of four U.S. field centers involved in developing and
pilot-testing an innovative obesity-prevention program known as GEMS, for "Girls' Health-Enrichment
Multisite Studies." Sponsored by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute,
GEMS' goal was to find ways to prevent obesity among 8- to 10-year-old
African-American girls. The other field centers were the
University of Memphis in Tennessee, the
Minnesota-Minneapolis and Stanford
University in Palo Alto, Calif.
To obtain a measure of the normal dietary intakes of 114
African-American girls aged 8 to 10, the researchers asked each girl, at the
beginning of the study, to recall foods eaten within a 24-hour period on two
Cullen, a behavioral scientist at the CNRC and associate professor at
Baylor College of Medicine, reported some of the baseline results, comparing
the girls' heights and weightsexpressed as Body Mass Index (BMI)
measurementsto consumption. She and colleagues found a significant
inverse link between BMI and the amount of vegetables consumed daily by GEMS
participants. This means that the girls who reported eating more vegetables had
lower BMIs. These results suggest that lower-calorie vegetables may take the
place of higher-calorie foods in the girls' diets and have a positive influence
on energy balance.
The girls who snacked more often were found to also drink more
sweetened beverages, such as fruit drinks, sweetened tea and soda.
about the research in the March 2006 issue of Agricultural Research
magazinean issue focusing on ARS obesity research.
The findings in the CNRC study were originally published in the
journal Obesity Research.