$3.8M grant to fight childhood obesity in Michigan – WSYM-TV

Posted: February 7, 2020 at 6:47 am

LANSING, Mich. A Michigan State University College of Nursing [nursing.msu.edu] researcher hopes a new school- and home-based program will help fight the growing childhood obesity epidemic.

Dr. Lorraine Robbins [nursing.msu.edu] is launching a three-part intervention project called Guys/Girls Opt for Activities for Life, or GOAL, later this year thanks to a $3.8 million National Institutes of Health (NIH)/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute grant, which will be spread across five years. The grant has two parts: If the first part in Year 1 is successful, remaining funds will be released to conduct the second part over the next 4 years. The program will involve young adolescents in 5th-7th grades along with one parent/guardian per adolescent who will serve as a source of support.

The program includes:

Its extremely important for adolescents to increase their physical activity levels and healthy eating habits, because poor health habits established early in life that lead to excessive weight gain can result in ongoing health-related problems in adulthood, said Dr. Robbins, an associate professor in the college. Childhood obesity is a major problem in the United States that we need to address now.

According to the NIH, currently about 1 in 6 children and adolescents are obese and that figure doubles when they become adults. Over two-thirds of men and women are considered to be overweight or obese, placing them at high risk for health problems, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, joint problems and other conditions.

The GOAL program has already shown promise, as noted in a small pilot study conducted in an urban school in Michigan in 2017. In the pilot, physical activity and diet quality improved among the adolescents involved in the GOAL program, and their parents/guardians provided positive evaluations. Robbins and her research team, including Dr. Jiying Ling from the MSU College of Nursing, Dr, Karin Pfeiffer at the MSU College of Education and Dr. Jean Kerver with the MSU College of Human Medicine, are planning to expand the program to six more urban schools across Michigan in fall 2020, and then to 16 additional schools across the state in subsequent years.

We hope this program can become a model for school districts not just throughout the state, but also across the country, Robbins said. Many families, especially those in low-income neighborhoods, already struggle enough trying to make ends meet and dont have the time to research healthy recipes or strategies to help them assist their children with healthy eating and physical activity. By bringing the resources to them, we expect to make a lasting impact on both parents and their children.

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$3.8M grant to fight childhood obesity in Michigan - WSYM-TV

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