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News Briefs

October 19, 2003
Contact: 

Alan Czarnetzki, associate professor of earth science, (319) 273-2152, (319) 266-7062, alan.czarnetzki@uni.edu
Patrick O'Reilly, meteorological decision-support scientist, (319) 273-3789, (319) 266-0029, patrick.oreilly@uni.edu
Maureen Berner, assistant professor of political science, (319) 273-6047
Larry Hensley, professor of physical education and director, Youth Fitness & Obesity Institute, (319) 273-6442 (319) 273-2840, Larry.Hensley@uni.edu

Will this winter be warm, cold, wet, dry? Even the computer isn't sure.



The wooly caterpillars are out in full force. The almanac recommends bracing for a tough winter. But your neighbor says it's going to be mild. Who do you believe? Alan Czarnetzki, UNI meteorologist and associate professor of earth science, says the high-tech computer models professional meteorologists use to generate short-term forecasts generally do very well. But different techniques are used to predict long-range weather patterns. 'Long-range forecasts rely heavily on historical data and are best explained in the form of probabilities. Right now, the models show an almost equal chance of a near-normal, wetter-than-normal, or drier-than-normal winter. In short, the computer models are riding the fence.'

Contacts:

Alan Czarnetzki, associate professor of earth science, (319) 273-2152, (319) 266-7062, alan.czarnetzki@uni.edu

Patrick O'Reilly, meteorological decision-support scientist, (319) 273-3789, (319) 266-0029, patrick.oreilly@uni.edu

James O'Connor, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761





Work and play may contribute to academic performance in high school, says UNI professor

More, it seems, is better. At least up to a point. Maureen Berner, UNI assistant professor of political science, has conducted research that indicates that high school students who work and/or participate in extra-curricular activities, tend to have better grades than those who don't. 'It's sort of a chicken-and-egg situation, though,' she says. ' Is it that you have motivated students with good grades who also are gung-ho about work; or students who, as a result of getting a job, are able to better manage time and handle responsibilities, and see those skills carry over into academic performance. We don't have the answer for that.'

Her research also indicates that the benefits diminish for students carrying more than 20 hours of work and/or extra-curricular activities each week.

Maureen Berner, assistant professor of political science, (319) 273-6047

Gwenne Culpepper, University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761





Prevalence of overweight children, adolescents skyrocketing

A recent study by the Rand Corp., of Santa Monica, Calif., indicated that from 1986 to 2000, the proportion of Americans who were severely obese quadrupled, jumping from one in 200 adults to one in 50. Statistics in a recent federal report indicated that the prevalence of overweight has doubled in children and tripled in adolescents over the past 20 years.

'While dietary patterns clearly play a role in these trends, much of the effect has been attributed to declines in physical activity,' says Larry Hensley, director of the University of Northern Iowa Youth Fitness & Obesity Institute, and a professor of physical education. 'Kids and adults need to develop sound nutrition habits and participate in regular physical activity.'

Hensley says the UNI center was launched in 2001 to address sedentary lifestyles and overweight among young Americans, with special emphasis targeted toward small towns and rural communities. Hensley says, 'The immediate goal of the project is to develop the capacity to provide programs, both in and out of schools that better meets the physical activity and nutrition needs of young children.'

Contacts:

Larry Hensley, professor of physical education and director, Youth Fitness & Obesity Institute, (319) 273-6442 (319) 273-2840, Larry.Hensley@uni.edu

Vicki Grimes, Office of University Marketing & Public Relations, (319) 273-2761