Grant supports new approaches to curbing childhood obesity

Effective prevention is key to preserving the health of youths in a nation in which one of every three children is considered obese, says a University of Alabama at Birmingham epidemiologist selected to explore new strategies.

UAB Assistant Professor Olivia Affuso, Ph.D., in the UAB School of Public Health, has received a 24-month, $75,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) New Connections Program to study effective obesity interventions for African-American and Hispanic children.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics reveal that 33 percent of Hispanic/Latino boys, 35.7 percent of African-American boys and 51.2 percent of Mexican-American boys are overweight. More than 30 percent of Hispanic/Latino girls, 46.4 percent of African-Americangirls and 36.7 percent of Mexican-American girls are overweight.

Affuso's project will examine the potential for synergistic approaches to obesity prevention among children also receiving interventions for their academic performance.

"I am extremely proud to be among the junior investigators honored," Affuso said. "This award will connect me to a network of established experts in research and evaluation related to health and health care and provide me with an opportunity to evaluate a program that has far-reaching implications for the future health of our nation's children."

New Connections supports early- to mid-career scholars who are historically underrepresented ethnic or racial minorities, first-generation college graduates and individuals from low-income communities. "More than a grant opportunity, New Connections is a lifelong professional network for diverse researchers and evaluators," says Debra Perez, Ph.D., RWJF senior program officer.

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