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Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program (I-TOPP)

Over the past 30 years, the prevalence of overweight and obesity has doubled in 2- to 5-year-olds and tripled in children aged 6 to 11 years. NIFA, in 2011, funded the Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program (I-TOPP), a joint doctoral/Masters of Public Health (MPH) degree program, at the University of Illinois (UI) with the goal of training future leaders to address the problem of childhood obesity.

“We know the causes of childhood obesity are multifactorial, involving both genetic and environmental causes,” said Sharon Donovan, professor in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at UI and director of I-TOPP. “Of the environmental factors, family routines, nutrition, food security, physical activity, sedentary behavior, and sleep are all important.

The program’s transdisciplinary approaches span beyond the expertise of instructors and researchers within academia and also involve community stakeholders. These approaches, which are often a component of team science, teach students to master and then integrate broad methods to find solutions to complex public health problems such as childhood obesity.

NIFA supports this research through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

Want to read about more impacts like this? Check out Fresh from the Field, a weekly bulletin showcasing transformative impacts made by grantees funded by NIFA.

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