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Obesity Multistate Research Projects

Multistate research projects are funded through Hatch formula grants that are awarded on a competitive basis through regional research offices.

The process calls for a consensus on the problem or issue to be addressed, and it brings together the institutions, disciplines, and functions necessary to address the problem within a set time.

The following are examples of multistate projects relating to obesity.

Excessive weight gain is associated with increased risk of developing many serious diseases, including cardiovascular disease, hypertension, and type 2 diabetes. Young adults are at a uniquely increased risk for weight gain because of rapidly changing social situations that influence eating and exercise behaviors. Despite extensive efforts to promote weight management, these efforts only reach a small proportion of the population at risk and even effective programs promoting individual behavior change may have limited effectiveness in environments that promote weight gain. Research is needed to explain the combination of individual and environmental factors associated with unhealthy weight gain among college students.

This project focuses on developing behaviors that lead to resilience to weight gain in children from low-income families. Resilience is a characteristic that exists only in a condition of adversity. Families find themselves living within an environment that tends to cause obesity; they are exposed to television advertising, large food portions, frequent eating away from home experiences, limited physical activity, etc. Since not all low-income children are overweight, the assumption is that some low-income families negotiate through this environment without their children becoming overweight (regardless of genetic influence). What makes these families different (e.g., resilient) from others in the same environment? The question can be resolved only by comparing families. Once differences are revealed, then a framework for realistic interventions will be developed.

This project focuses on parental and household factors and their influence on calcium intake of preadolescent children (11-12 years old). This age group will provide information helpful in preventing the decline in calcium consumption observed after this age. While information about influences on calcium intake was gathered from children, parental viewpoints have not been examined. The proposal addresses the following factors: availability of calcium-rich foods in the home; parental consumption of calcium-rich foods at home and away from home; actual or perceived lactose intolerance; belief that dairy products contribute to excess body weight; hectic day-to-day schedules; food preferences and dislikes; parental expectations regarding calcium-rich food consumption; parental knowledge regarding calcium needs of their child and what foods in what quantities meet those needs; attitudes toward use of supplements and calcium-rich foods; parenting skills; and the family eating environment.

This project will examine the relationships of food environments to diets, obesity, and health. Although individuals make food choices, this project assumes that the food environment and foodways (what people eat and why they eat it) are collectively constructed. The project will also study the effects of the social organization of food systems, including local and regional distribution patterns, alternative food sources, and formal and informal food exchange patterns on diets and health.

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