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USDA Releases Requests for Applications for the AFRI Childhood Obesity Challenge Area

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2012—The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) has released requests for applications (RFA) to the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Childhood Obesity Prevention funding opportunity to support research, education and extension aimed at reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity across the nation. In fiscal year 2012, NIFA plans to award $5 million in grants in this challenge area.

The long-term goal of USDA-sponsored obesity research is to reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents. This year’s funding is focused on generating knowledge of the behavior, social and/or environmental factors that influence childhood obesity and then developing and implementing prevention programs for children and adolescents. Research and programs should be aimed at obesity in children ages 2 through 19. Each application will go through a competitive selection process based on scientific merit and reviewed by an external panel of peer reviewers.
AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grants program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. AFRI is funded at $264 million in FY 2012. Additionally, AFRI will make awards in four other challenge areas – food safety, global food security, climate variability and sustainable bioenergy—and through the foundational and fellowship programs. The AFRI challenge areas will continue to support societal challenge areas where research, education, and extension can achieve significant and measurable outcomes.

All AFRI program information, including the RFAs, is available online. NIFA will post a series of webinars focused on the individual RFAs to provide an overview of the program areas. Visit for more information.

Improving child nutrition is a focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that was signed by President Obama in December 2010. This legislation reauthorizes USDA’S child nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 32 million children each day. It will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children. Investigating science-based interventions and studying obesity in children can also strengthen these programs. To help families make healthier food choices, USDA released MyPlate, a new generation food icon acclaimed as a simple, powerful visual cue to promote healthier eating at mealtimes. It is supported by tools and resources at the, and is available for Spanish-language speakers as MiPlato. MyPlate and the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act are essential pieces of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative. To learn more, visit

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future.  More information is available at:


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).