There is little controversy that overweight and obesity are prevalent and pose myriad health, work and economic challenges for individuals and the population. While energy expenditure and physical activity, specifically, are integral components of energy balance and a healthy lifestyle, the dominant driver of weight gain is energy consumption. There are strong data documenting parallel trends for BMI, portion size and eating frequency. It is our view that these associations reflect dysfunctional feeding stemming from insensitivity or errors of signaling systems that underlie ingestive behavior. This grant seeks funds to train predoctoral students for the study of healthful and dysfunctional feeding to address the problem of obesity. Training will be highly interdisciplinary and coordinated through the Ingestive Behavior Research Center (IBRC) at Purdue University. The Center is comprised of approximately 56 faculty residing in twelve departments on the West Lafayette campus as well as researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSM). They bring expertise in the areas of nutrition, food science, psychology, animal science, neurology, physiology, genetics, endocrinology, sensory science, anthropology and agricultural economics. The Center curriculum includes didactic training in biochemistry, physiology, controls of feeding in humans and animal models, research design, statistics and ethics. This is augmented by advanced specialty courses in the areas of sensory studies, infant and child feeding, aging, food science, neural systems and health policy. Students are also encouraged to take advantage of other available resources on campus such as courses, activities and research opportunities offered through the Public Health Program, Cancer Center, Agricultural Research Center and Women's Global Health Institute to name only a few. IBRC also hosts a biennial international conference on topics related to ingestive behavior that requires participation by trainees and supports a visiting scholars program and special topics course, both of which bring eminent researchers to campus to interact with the trainees. Funds from the prior training grant supported two trainees per year and, based on our experience, success and growing demand, we now request support for two trainees per year over the next five years (5 total trainees). Complementary support for trainees will be provided by funds from various federal agencies, the University, and private donations to the trainers. Providing predoctoral students training on the antecedents, consequences and management of dysfunction eating and the skills necessary to further understanding of related issues should hasten resolution of the overweight/obesity problem.
Dysfunctional eating contributes to weight gain and obesity with resulting adverse impacts on health, quality of life, productivity and economics. Providing predoctoral students with the knowledge and skills to expand understanding and improve the management of dysfunctional ingestive behavior should hasten amelioration of overweight/obesity and its consequences.
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