The Center for Obesity Research and Education recently received a five-year, $3.7 million grant from the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to fund a project that will study nutrition habits and influences on preschool-aged children.
CORE used a collaborative effort to form a multi-disciplinary team of health professionals to develop the grant proposal.
The grant was awarded to lead researcher Jenifer Orlet Fisher, an associate professor of public health and the director of CORE’s Family Eating Laboratory, and Elena Serrano, an associate professor of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.
“We drew on about over a decade of research that I’ve done on the effects of large, super-sized portions on kids’ eating behaviors,” Fisher said.
The study, which will be the first of its kind, will use the child obesity-prevention grant to determine behavioral patterns of the children and their mothers’ role in the preparation of food using a series of experiments. Approximately 150 low-income families in Philadelphia will take part in the early research stages of the study.
Today, one in almost every three youth between the ages of 6 and 19 is considered to be obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC states that obese children are more likely to have risk factors associated with cardiovascular disease and are more likely to become obese as adults.
“The department wants to do a better job at helping those who use those programs to make better choices,” said Dr. Roger Beachy, the director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture. “This grant will inform decisions that are important for Philadelphia, as well as for those in other rural and urban communities.”
The study will specifically work to educate mothers caring for preschoolers, so they can create healthy portion sizes for their children.
“The Obesity Center doesn’t focus on what the children are eating as much as why they are eating, and how much they’re eating,” Fisher said.