ECU News Services

youtube twitter facebook rss feed

ECU’s BOY BANDemia raises awareness about obesity

By Crystal Baity

Band members are, left to right, Adam Rhodes, Sean Russell and Joe Bartholomew. Contributed photo by Michelle Messer
GREENVILLE, N.C.   (Jan. 10, 2013)   —   Push aside the sweet tea. An East Carolina University boy band has just the right motivation if weight loss tops your list of resolutions in 2013

Physician assistant students Joe Bartholomew of Rolesville, Adam Rhodes of Jacksonville and Sean Russell of Raleigh have teamed up for the second time in less than a year on “NObesity.” It’s a parody of “Incomplete” by one of the biggest boy bands of the ’90s, the Backstreet Boys.

Their first video began as a class assignment to create an anti-smoking campaign. “I’ll Quit but Not Today,” a parody of another Backstreet Boys hit “I Want It That Way,” has gotten more than 9,000 hits and was spotlighted on the American Heart Association website.

While the group didn’t do this video for a class assignment, they took it just as seriously, said Russell, who wrote the lyrics. Rhodes, who performed for five years in a Dave Matthews cover band, handled the bulk of the vocals but they all sang.

“The purpose is to promote a healthy lifestyle, and to reach the population in a fun or funny way,” Bartholomew said. “It’s a great story told in the video.”

Kevin Light, a friend and ECU alumnus who is now a graduate student in nursing at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, portrayed the person trying to lose weight.

The group chose weight loss because of obesity’s role in heart disease and stroke, two of the leading causes of death in the United States. Obesity affects more than one-third of the nation’s population.

They want to continue promoting a healthy lifestyle in their unique way with more videos on topics like diabetes and ACL injuries. “It is a very original way to get awareness out about disease,” Bartholomew said.

ECU’s Michelle Messer, a photographer, filmed the video. Messer works as collection development coordinator at Laupus Library where she handles acquisitions and other duties. She’s also the band manager who has helped get the group on several blogs, Facebook and Twitter pages.

The group’s name “bandemia” is a medical term that describes an increased number of white blood cells used to fight infection in the body. 

Bartholomew, Rhodes and Russell are in their final year of graduate school and plan to complete their degrees in December.

This week, they started the first of their required eight clinical rotations and 1,900 hours of working with patients. Bartholomew will work in geriatrics at Golden Living Center, Rhodes will begin in labor and delivery at Vidant Medical Center, and Russell will work in family medicine in Washington.

The band’s Facebook page can be found at


Contact: Crystal Baity | 252-744-3764