Purdue to study nutrition needs of low-income, rural children
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue University will help develop nutrition programs in two Indiana communities as part of a $4.5 million U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to study obesity in preschool-age children of low-income rural families in seven North-Central states.
The goal of the research and Extension program is to enable communities to provide needed resources to create and maintain healthy eating and physical activity in children 3-5 years of age.
"That is a crucial time for obesity prevention," said Amy R. Mobley, a Purdue University professor of food and nutrition who is heading the project in Indiana. "It's a time when children are forming their eating habits."
Kansas State University is leading the project, which will involve a team of nutrition scientists, community development specialists, and family and youth development specialists from Indiana, Kansas, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin. Purdue is receiving about $500,000 to conduct its work in the five-year effort.
Research will be integrated with Extension education in assisting communities in their efforts to identify issues that cause obesity, such as watching too much television, eating too much sugar and not having playground equipment at parks to help children be more active.
Researchers also will determine whether there are "food deserts" – rural areas lacking nearby grocery stores that offer nutritional food such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Programs will be designed for individual communities to help meet their specific needs. "It won't be one size fits all," Mobley said.
Two communities in Indiana will be selected for the project. Both communities will choose from the same "menu" of programs available to them, but one will be provided with a "coach" who will help local health coalitions identify pressing needs and select programs to improve nutrition and physical activity among children. The other community will not receive a coach until the fifth year, allowing researchers to evaluate the effectiveness of coaching in the three years following one year of planning.
Results in Indiana will be shared nationally to help communities with similar obesity issues, Mobley said.
Program organizers will meet in about a month to decide how to select the participating communities.
Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: Amy R. Mobley, 765-496-9462, email@example.com