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USDA awards grant to GSU professor to study childhood obesity dynamics

ATLANTA A Georgia State University professor has received a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to look at the obesity trends from childhood to adolescence.

Rusty Tchernis, an associate professor of economics in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, received a $225,000 grant to study the "Dynamics of childhood obesity," with co-investigator Daniel Millimet of Southern Methodist University.

Tchernis said, the research will explore whether or not children who gain weight change behavior and eat more food, and don't exercise, and if future obesity is impacted as a result.

"We would like to know how much of this correlation is causal and identify an age as to when weight gains stick," Tchernis said.

The study also will explore whether food assistance programs have any affect or not, comparing those who participate and those who do not.

"Overweight children are more likely to become obese adults," Tchernis said. "The question is, is it caused by something or is it random. We are the first to look at causal effects of prior weight gains on future weight outcomes."

Other research by Tchernis, under a separate USDA grant, shows that children who eat lunch as part of the National School Lunch Program have an increased likelihood of becoming overweight.

The study also reveals that the School Breakfast Program is a valuable tool in fighting obesity among children. Those findings were published in the summer edition of the Journal of Human Resources.

"I believe that losing weight is much more difficult than preventing weight gain," Tchernis said. "Being able to identify as to when to put a policy into place is going to be very important."


Contact: Renee DeGross Valdes
Georgia State University

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