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UAlbany Researchers Address National Obesity Epidemic with $1.1 Million Stimulus Grant

Contact(s):  Catherine Herman (518) 956-8150

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UAlbany researchers are seeking to encourage good eating habits and curb obesity through a new $1.1 million grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

ALBANY, N.Y. (October 12, 2009) -- University at Albany School of Public Health researchers Janine M. Jurkowski and Kirsten K. Davison have received a $1.1 million stimulus grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to address the national childhood obesity epidemic. 

The researchers will collaborate with parents of children enrolled in Head Start and community-based organizations in Rensselaer County, N.Y., to develop and implement a childhood obesity prevention program.  This process will begin by determining the needs and wishes of families regarding healthy lifestyles in children and identifying key assets in the community and in families that could be utilized and expanded upon to meet those needs. 

"Involving families and the community in the development of obesity prevention programs offers the best opportunity for success and overall improved health for the children most at risk," said Dean Philip Nasca of the School of Health.

"Families and community members will participate throughout the project working alongside the researchers to ensure that the program that is developed leverages family and community assets and addresses barriers to health," said Jurkowski, an assistant professor of health policy, management and behavior.

"I am excited to work with parents and families in this capacity," said Davison, an associate professor of health policy, management and behavior. "Preventing the development of obesity in children is a real challenge, but with this approach and the diverse skills of the research team, I am confident that we can effectively engage families and begin to address this problem"

The interdisciplinary team includes principal investigators Jurkowski and Davison as well as  co-collaborators Hal Lawson (School of Social Welfare and Department of Educational Administration and Policy), Glenn Deane (Department of Sociology) and Sibylle Kranz (Purdue University Department of Foods and Nutrition) and Larry Schell, director of the University’s Center for Elimination of Minority Health Disparities (CEMHD).  Jurkowski and Davison serve as research associates with CEMHD.

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Educationally and culturally, the University at Albany-SUNY puts "The World Within Reach" for its 18,000 students. An internationally recognized research university with 58 undergraduate majors and 128 graduate degree programs, UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as public policy, nanotechnology and criminal justice. With a curriculum enhanced by 300 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers. For more information about this globally ranked University, visit www.albany.edu. For UAlbany's extensive roster of faculty experts, visit www.albany.edu/news/experts.shtml.

Istvan Kecskes
UAlbany Faculty

For UAlbany linguist and teacher Istvan Kecskes, the world is his classroom.

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