The BFF Program: Be Fit with Friends

August 12, 2011 1:15:46 PM PDT
Girl Scouts are the subjects of a serious study designed to fight obesity in adolescent girls.

New info shows that by the time girls hit middle school, their physical activity drops by 34 percent. Add to that to the fact that eight of the nine fattest states for kids report obesity rates of more than 20 percent.

Researchers like Doctor Deborah Parra-Medina, with the Institute for Health Promotion Research, hopes a little girl power will change that.

"So establishing positive behaviors early in life is what we're trying to do," said Dr. Parra-Medina

Girl Scouts took pictures in their neighborhoods, and documented the challenges that prevented them from being more active. Based on the photos, researchers created the "Be Fit with Friends" or BFF program, and teamed up with the Girl Scouts.

Monica Enriquez, 13, was hesitant at first.

"After that, I just started relaxing and wanting to go to more BFF events," she said.

Along with using these physical activity modules during troop meetings, the girls earn points and win prizes for participating in community fitness events.

Social media is a big part of the program, too. The girls get motivational texts like, "Cold outside? Get active inside, crank up the tunes and dance!" They even have a Facebook fan page to upload pics of them getting in shape at home and at fitness events.

Madeleine Lopez, 12, says working out wasn't fun before all this.

"I think it's good because you don't just have to focus on just being fit. You can actually have fun while being fit," Lopez added.

Researchers hope the BFF program helps these girls realize fitness should be their "best friend forever".

Thirty-five girls took part in the "Be Fit with Friends" fitness study. The data is currently being analyzed. Another organization picked it up as part of a summer program for another 100 girls. Dr. Parra-Medina says it will be offered to some Girl Scouts again in the fall, and she would like to see it expand nationally.