Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced that Michigan State University researchers will lead a $4.7 million effort to tackle childhood obesity. USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is awarding the grant, which is a competitive grant program that was included in the 2014 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Obama at MSU last year. This in itself is great news, since Michigan State University is often at the forefront of cutting-edge research to make the world a better place. More exciting is that our very own Dawn Contreras, director of the Health and Nutrition Institute at Michigan State University Extension, will be joining the team.
Childhood obesity is considered one of the nation’s biggest health challenges, as one-third of America’s children are overweight or obese, according to Tom Vilsack, secretary of agriculture. This study aims to illuminate the factors that contribute to obesity and encourage healthy habits among families. Specifically, the study will look at mealtimes of families living in low-income situtations, and aim to increase the frequency of healthy family meals.
Holly Brophy-Herb, professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in MSU’s College of Social Science, will lead the team. Other members of the multi-disciplinary team include Mildred Horodynski from the MSU College of Nursing, Jean Kerver from the MSU Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in the College of Human Medicine, Julie Lumeng and Niko Kaciroti from the University of Michigan, and the Jackson Community Action Agency Head Start.
This is a great example of how MSU Extension staff members can get involved in larger initiatives that have an impact on our programming, our communities and even our families. We look forward to hearing more about the research and Dawn’s continued contribution.