By Chris Adams

For Dr. James Levine, the numbers are familiar – and daunting: One of three Americans considered to be obese, a third of children overweight or obese, many of them with elevated blood pressure.

What Levine is attempting to do, as co-director of Mayo Clinic - Arizona State University Obesity Solutions in Phoenix, is make the connection between the research world and the real world. Obesity Solutions works with the community and industry partners to identify, test and put into practice ways to combat obesity.

Not all of them work, of course. “We push, we push, we push. Sometimes we see success,” Levine said during a kickoff for a National Press Foundation obesity training program in Phoenix.

And while “the laboratories are important,” he said, actually bringing “health and success to real people is where this is at.”

And that’s what has taken Levine and one of his postdoctoral researchers, Danielle Raves, to the Phoenix libraries.

Levine and Raves detailed their FitPHX Energy Zones program, a library-based after-school program designed to teach children the essentials of health and nutrition and to steer them toward 60 minutes of daily exercise. At some libraries in Phoenix, the program has installed ‘active stations” – essentially treadmills with attached desks – and uses college interns to mentor the children. It’s getting attention in Phoenix – and developing loyalty among the children who participate.

Obesity Solutions has expanded the program to a second site in Arizona -- Mesa -- and is planning to expand it to potential sites in California, Minnesota, Iowa, Mississippi and Florida.