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SIUE lab to study effects of obesity on children

One year after Southern Illinois University Edwardsville opened the first Motion Capture and Analysis Laboratory in the Southwestern Illinois and Eastern Missouri area, the lab is now engaging in its first research study and is seeking participants.

The lab, which was funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Major Research Instrumentation program, contains a comprehensive motion capture and analysis system. This system records movement from objects and people, which then is analyzed, studied or modified using computer software. This technology has proven useful in fields such as the military, health care, sports and videogaming, among other fields.

Sinan Onal, PhD, lead principal investigator and assistant professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, is spearheading a new research study that uses the motion capture systems to determine the presence of movement differences in children with obesity and identify improvement through a resistance training program.

Other project team members include Sohyung Cho, PhD, professor in the Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering and Bryan Smith, PhD, associate professor in the School of Education, Health and Human Behavior.

According to Onal, the child obesity rate for the United States is 18.5 percent in children under the age of 19 and 39.6 percent in adults, which are both rates that are reaching epidemic status.

“Such obesity rates result in increased healthcare costs associated not only with cardiometabolic issues but also with musculoskeletal problems involving the back, hip, knee, ankle and foot,” Onal said. “These problems affect the human body’s movement or musculoskeletal system in places such as muscles, tendons and discs.”

Weight loss can improve gait pattern and improve balance but does not address concerns regarding muscle loss. Onal’s study proposes resistance training for balance recovery and muscle strengthening.

Currently, the project team is looking for participants from 5-12 years of age with an existing diagnosis of obesity (BMI at or above the 95th percentile). Volunteers are asked to attend one 60-minute assessment, have walking patterns assessed through motion capture system and have at least one parent present. If you or someone you know is interested in participating, contact Dr. Sinan Onal at (618) 650-5889 or at

PHOTO FROM LEFT: Drs. Bryan Smith, Sohyung Cho and Sinan Onal.

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