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UIC receives $16 million to study impact of environment on kids' health
Date:12/16/2008

The University of Illinois at Chicago's ImpacTeen project has been awarded a four-year, $16 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study policy and environmental factors that influence youth behaviors related to nutrition, physical activity, obesity and tobacco use.

ImpacTeen has received $22.5 million from the foundation over the past 11 years and is one component of Bridging the Gap, a partnership between UIC and the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. ImpacTeen has primarily focused on adolescent tobacco, alcohol and illicit drug use.

"In recent years we've started to pay more attention to diet, physical activity and obesity," said Frank Chaloupka, distinguished professor of economics and director of the Health Policy Center at UIC's Institute for Health Research and Policy and principal investigator of the study. "There are numerous long-term health consequences associated with the rise in obesity in kids and significant health care costs associated with that."

ImpacTeen researchers will look at national food marketing on television and legislation that impacts local environments. They will focus on state policies that potentially impact diet, activity and weight in kids. At the community level, school district wellness policies that aim to promote more physical activity and create healthier food environments will be assessed.

Schools will be surveyed to obtain information on the availability of various foods and beverages a la carte, through vending machines or school stores, and as part of the school meal; availability of fast foods at school; participation in school meal programs; classroom snack policies; student physical education and other physical activity; and other factors.

In some communities, researchers will look at what opportunities are available to kids for physical activity -- such as walking/biking paths, bike racks, parks, sidewalks, recreation facilities
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Contact: Sherri McGinnis Gonzlez
smcginn@uic.edu
312-996-8277
University of Illinois at Chicago
Source:Eurekalert

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