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News Release

Three new research projects funded by University of Minnesota will address key policy questions about obesity and healthy eating

Contacts: Becky Beyers, College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences, bbeyers@umn.edu, (612) 626-5754
Patty Mattern, University News Service, mattern@umn.edu, (612) 624-2801

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (02/04/2010) —Three new research projects funded by the University of Minnesota will address key policy questions about obesity and healthy eating. The projects are funded by grants from the university's Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute. Each research project will receive about $100,000 and will take place over the next two years.

The projects include:
•    A look at how mothers perceive their babies' hunger and satiety and how that might influence child growth and weight status, especially in early childhood. Because the largest increases in obesity over the last 30 years have occurred in children, the research team aims to understand how parents' attributes and attitudes are passed on. The team includes researchers from the U of M's Institute of Child Development, School of Public Health and Center for Neurobehavioral Development.

•    Testing of a novel worksite obesity prevention program that includes nutrition labels, pedometers, persuasive messaging and tracking how influential colleagues affect others' behavior. Researchers hope to show how a workplace prevention program can make a difference in obesity prevention through existing networks and resources. The project involves researchers from four departments at the University of Minnesota-Duluth in partnership with St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth.

•    Development of state-level food system indicators and data collection for all 50 states, in an effort to more accurately show how each state's food system meets the standard of "healthy, fair, green and affordable." The standard is used nationally, but no data exists on a state level. U of M researchers on the project are from the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences and the School of Public Health.

"These are very different projects, but they all demonstrate excellent ways in which the university can provide important research about how what we eat affects our health," said Mindy Kurzer, director of the Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute.

The institute fosters interdisciplinary research and outreach from areas as wide-ranging as medicine, agriculture and exercise, through a collaboration of five colleges within the university.

The projects and their principal investigators include:


Mother-Infant Feeding Interactions and Infant Physical and Cognitive Development: 
A Transdisciplinary Research Collaboration

•    Co-PI: Stephanie M. Carlson, PhD, associate professor, Institute of Child Development
•    Co-PI: Ellen W. Demerath, PhD, associate professor, School of Public Health
•    Co-PI: Dr. Michael K. Georgieff, MD, professor, Pediatrics and Child Development; director, Center for Neurobehavioral Development
•    Co-I: Danielle M. Beck, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, Simpson University

Preventing Obesity in the Worksite: A Multi-Message, Multi-Step Approach

•    Co-PI: Jennifer Feenstra Schultz, PhD, associate professor, Department of Economics- UMD
•    Co-PI: Lara LaCaille, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Psychology- UMD
•    Co-I: Rick LaCaille, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Psychology, UMD
•    Co-I: Ryan Goei, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Communication, UMD
•    Co-I: Rebecca de Souza, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Communication, UMD
•    Co-I: Amy Versnik Nowak, PhD, assistant professor, Department of Health, Physical Education and Recreation

State Level Food System Indicators

•    PI: Robert P. King, professor, Department of Applied Economics
•    Co-PI: Molly D. Anderson, Food Systems Integrity, Arlington, MA
•    Co-PI: David Mulla, professor, Department of Soil, Water and Climate
•    Co-PI: Mary Story, professor, Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health
 

Tags: College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences

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