The purpose of this K07 application is to build a mentored research and training experience to foster independent professional development in obesity and cancer prevention, specifically focusing on the understudied area of excess weight gain among college youth. This application is submitted from the University of Minnesota (Division of Epidemiology and Community Health), which provides a rich, interdisciplinary environment to build off of ongoing cancer prevention research (e.g., through the Center for Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer) under the mentorship of Drs. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, Robert Jeffery, and Mary Story. Specifically, I have identified 3 career development goals to be fulfilled: (1) to build skills in epidemiological survey development and in leading/directing data collection efforts, (2) to continue to develop expertise in behavioral epidemiology and epidemiologic analysis, (3) to strengthen my understanding of health behavior theory, building skills that will allow me to effectively link epidemiological work with future intervention research focusing on college obesity and cancer prevention. To achieve these goals, my training will include a variety of activities, including coursework and mentored research.
The aims of this award reflect the goals of the NIH Roadmap initiatives, not only in providing training and mentored experience in interdisciplinary research, but also in supporting translational research in a public health arena, setting the foundation for a career that bridges the gap between epidemiology and intervention research. My mentored research plan specifically seeks to identify important modifiable determinants of excess weight gain in college students, by following a large cohort of undergraduate college students through one academic year. Survey responses will also be linked to objective environmental assessments (e.g., measures of the food environment and physical activity resources). Through this research, we have the important opportunity to examine excess weight gain, related health behaviors and their individual, environmental, and social determinants in a large population of college students living on or near the second largest public US university. With the ultimate goal of identifying intervention targets that may serve as the basis for future R01s, this research includes developing environmental and online assessment tools that may be used within a wide range of US college campuses.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Academic/Teacher Award (ATA) (K07)
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Application #
Study Section
Subcommittee G - Education (NCI)
Program Officer
Perkins, Susan N
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Public Health & Prev Medicine
Schools of Public Health
United States
Zip Code
Lytle, Leslie A; Moe, Stacey G; Nanney, M Susie et al. (2014) Designing a Weight Gain Prevention Trial for Young Adults: The CHOICES Study. Am J Health Educ 45:67-75
Mathur, Charu; Stigler, Melissa; Lust, Katherine et al. (2014) A latent class analysis of weight-related health behaviors among 2- and 4-year college students and associated risk of obesity. Health Educ Behav 41:663-72
Pelletier, Jennifer E; Graham, Dan J; Laska, Melissa N (2014) Social norms and dietary behaviors among young adults. Am J Health Behav 38:144-52
Reicks, Marla; Trofholz, Amanda C; Stang, Jamie S et al. (2014) Impact of cooking and home food preparation interventions among adults: outcomes and implications for future programs. J Nutr Educ Behav 46:259-76
Graham, Dan J; Pelletier, Jennifer E; Neumark-Sztainer, Dianne et al. (2013) Perceived social-ecological factors associated with fruit and vegetable purchasing, preparation, and consumption among young adults. J Acad Nutr Diet 113:1366-74
Pelletier, Jennifer E; Laska, Melissa N; Neumark-Sztainer, Dianne et al. (2013) Positive attitudes toward organic, local, and sustainable foods are associated with higher dietary quality among young adults. J Acad Nutr Diet 113:127-32
Pelletier, Jennifer E; Laska, Melissa N (2013) Campus food and beverage purchases are associated with indicators of diet quality in college students living off campus. Am J Health Promot 28:80-7
Barr-Anderson, Daheia J; Laska, Melissa N; Veblen-Mortenson, Sara et al. (2012) A school-based, peer leadership physical activity intervention for 6th graders: feasibility and results of a pilot study. J Phys Act Health 9:492-9
Laska, Melissa N; Larson, Nicole I; Neumark-Sztainer, Dianne et al. (2012) Does involvement in food preparation track from adolescence to young adulthood and is it associated with better dietary quality? Findings from a 10-year longitudinal study. Public Health Nutr 15:1150-8
Laska, Melissa N; Murray, David M; Lytle, Leslie A et al. (2012) Longitudinal associations between key dietary behaviors and weight gain over time: transitions through the adolescent years. Obesity (Silver Spring) 20:118-25

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