Obesity is a leading preventable cause of death in the United States (US) and is one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. Recently obesity rates have reached a plateau in the US but have yet to begin to decrease. The physical consequences of overweight and especially obesity can be serious and life- threatening. Diet and physical inactivity are the two major determinants of overweight/obesity and need to be addressed on a population-wide scale for positive changes to occur. Individual behavior change programs have been slow and recidivism has been great. It is increasingly understood that our physical and social environments play a large role in influencing diet and physical activity. The mission of the Tulane PRC (T/PRC), therefore, is to identify and address the physical and social environmental factors influencing obesity and its behavioral determinants (physical activity and diet) through: participatory research focusing on these factors and ways to modify them;collaboration with community partners and policymakers;communication about and dissemination of this research with researchers, public health practitioners, policy-makers, community partners, and the general public;training of students, faculty, public health professionals, organizational partners and community members;maintaining a stable Infrastructure with adequate resources and personnel with appropriate training, experience and expertise along with strong institutional support. The previous two funding cycles of the T/PRC have demonstrated our ability to develop and maintain the key elements of the T/PRC which enable us to conduct the work consistent with our mission, goals and objectives. We are proposing an applied public health intervention research that will address physical and social factors within one intervention neighborhood in New Orleans, the 9th Ward, and compare it to a non-intervention neighborhood, New Orleans East. The overall goal is to conduct applied public health intervention research that will produce sustainable environmental and social improvements in New Orleans'underserved minority neighborhoods and result in increased healthy weight-related behaviors and reduction/prevention of obesity. The primary aim is to reduce Body Mass Index by 1.5% within overweight and obese categories. Multiple strategies will be employed to determine the collective impact on an identified neighborhood with well-defined boundaries, but with enough differences within the neighborhood to determine characteristics of the best setting for maximum impact. A core cohort will be recruited for pre and post assessments, and neighborhood observations will occur for estimate of population-wide use of physical activity and fresh produce venues.
The work of the Tulane PRC (T/PRC) has been and continues to be addressing factors of the physical and social environments that influence physical activity and diet, the two strongest determinants of overweight and obesity, one of the most serious health problems in the United States today. The T/PRC plans to continue this work for the purpose of achieving a healthier population in the City of New Orleans and thus preventing and reducing obesity on a population-wide scale. Our partnering with city and state agencies, community partners and organizations, and professional development of staff with the research expertise and experience to address these issues is a key objective.