ANN ARBOR, Mich. The USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture has awarded $4.9 million to the University of Michigan to reduce the prevalence of childhood obesity among Head Start preschoolers in Michigan.
The preschool years are a critical time for developing eating behaviors. Among 4-year-olds in the United States, nearly 1 in 5 is obese, and low-income children are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to be overweight than middle- or upper-income children.
"Obesity is perhaps the most pressing nutritional problem in America, with childhood and adolescent obesity rates tripling in the past 30 years," says NIFA director Roger Beachy, Ph.D., who made the award announcement Monday at the University of Michigan's C.S. Mott Children's Hospital.
"A goal for NIFA is to support research and develop methods, built on sound science, that will reverse the rising trend of obesity and help children and their families adopt healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime."
Julie C. Lumeng, M.D., a behavioral pediatrician at Mott Children's Hospital, will lead a research team of faculty from the U-M School of Public Health, the U-M Center for Human Growth and Development, and Michigan State University.
With the NIFA grant, Lumeng and her team will develop an obesity intervention program based on the premise that enhancing a child's ability to control certain emotions and behaviors is a key component of effective obesity prevention.
The ability to inhibit an impulse and calm oneself in the face of stress are two examples of self-regulatory abilities.
"These abilities may be relevant to obesity prevention because children who are better able to cope with stress may be less likely to eat impulsively or in response to stress," says Lumeng, an assistant professor of pediatrics in the Division of Child Behavioral Health, and assistant research scientist at the Center for Human Growth and Development.
|Contact: Shantell M. Kirkendoll|
University of Michigan Health System