Professor of Clinical and Health Psychology
College of Health Professions
Up to 10 percent of children are obese, and as many as 23 percent of all adolescents. Disturbingly, 80 percent of these teenagers are likely to grow into obese adults. Obesity may increase the risk of illness and death due to diabetes, stroke, coronary artery disease, as well as some cancer, and kidney and gallbladder disorders.
Also, excess weight may interfere with vital functions such as breathing and circulation. These are the issues that concern clinical health psychologist Michael G. Perri, who specializes in health promotion through the management of diet and exercise.
“Currently,” Perri says, “97 million adults, about 54 percent of those over age 20, are either overweight or obese.”
The focus of Perri’s research has been the development and empirical testing of behavioral strategies to improve long-term adherence to changes in diet and exercise. One of Perri’s main accomplishments is a clear demonstration that, as a chronic condition, obesity requires treatment with programs of long-term care. Because Perri has proved that structured maintenance programs are helpful to overweight individuals, his work has been featured by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. In addition, Perri and his colleagues were awarded a citation for excellence based on their current research on exercise adherence from the Society of Behavioral Medicine.
Perri’s research has been funded for 20 years by grants, awards and contracts from public and private sources. A Merit Review Research Award from the Veterans Administration “was instrumental in the development of my studies on long-term maintenance programs for management of obesity,” Perri says. Currently, the National Institutes of Health and Knoll Pharmaceutical Company support Perri’s research.