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New Class Teaches Undergrads Hazards of Physical Inactivity

COLUMBIA, MO — The first class of its kind in the country to be offered in the college classroom will educate non-science major undergraduate students about the hazards of physical inactivity and its implications for public policy.

Through a series of lectures, the course at the the University of Missouri-Columbia will examine the science of the calorie, the biology of aging and the effect of chronic disease on public policy. The majority of the course content will be taken from research that relates physical inactivity to a number of common disorders including obesity, type-2 diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer.

“This will be more than a sermon course,” said Frank Booth, professor of biomedical sciences and co-professor of the new course with Marybeth Brown, professor of physical therapy. “We'll put the information in terms for the undergraduate, non-science major to understand. We will tell them what they do to their bodies when they're not active. Then they have to decide what to do with this information.”

Recently, Booth found that just two days of physical inactivity can reduce the body's insulin efficiency. Insulin takes blood sugar from the blood stream and into the muscle to be used for energy, but physical inactivity causes the amount of sugar taken into the muscle to decrease.

Booth said the purpose of the course is to encourage lifestyle modifications in students today to help them prevent health problems later in life. He hopes to reach students in non-science fields, such as journalism and law, who will be implementing public policy in the future.

“We're not going to be able to change society unless we reach leaders who are not science majors,” Booth said. “These students will be making public policy and writing about it. They'll decide that constructing sidewalks is not just a money issue but a health issue as well.”

The course will begin as a one credit-hour class with a maximum enrollment of 50 students. Pending student interest and a successful first semester this fall, Booth hopes to expand the course in the future.

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