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AMA’s Medical Student Section

Early battles in fighting obesity


Radhika Thorn, a first-year student, and Courtney Esinhart, M2, volunteered to visit Boys and Girls Clubs in the Richmond community in an effort to combat obesity.
Photo courtesy of Helen Lawler, M’07

It takes a special person to appreciate eating ants on a log. Or maybe, it takes a special age.

To fight the number one preventable cause of death in the United States, the American Medical Association’s Medical Student Section has chosen Healthy Lifestyles to Reduce Obesity as its National Service Project.

As part of this national effort, 16 students from the MCV Campus student section of the AMA are making monthly visits to Boys and Girls Clubs in the Richmond community. The students have devised games like Nutrition Jeopardy to provide the children with nutritional strategies to fight obesity.


Second-year students Samantha Hess and Kendra Sweet lead the children in a game of Nutrition Jeopardy.
Photo courtesy of Helen Lawler, M’07

“We discuss healthy snacks, since that is something the kids have more control over than meal choices,” explained Helen Lawler, who is the M2 community service vice president. The students also provided examples of snacks for the children by turning celery, peanut butter and raisins into ants on a log. “Hopefully some of the info will stay with them.”

The Annual Fund supported the students’ effort by sponsoring a lunch lecture that prepared the students for the task. About 55 M1 and M2 students attended the January lecture at which second-year student Kendra Sweet talked to her fellow students about educating children on nutrition and eating choices. Sweet, who worked as a nutritionist before entering medical school, also developed the presentations that the students have taken on the road to the Boys and Girls Clubs.

The MCV Campus student section of the AMA, with a total membership of about 450 students, is one of more than two dozen student groups that receive financial support from the Annual Fund. Gifts to the Fund also support student scholarships and faculty research.