description): The goal of this K23 proposal is to provide research training related to childhood obesity. The applicant is an academic pediatrician who has worked in settings serving children in poverty since 1983. She has worked with African American, American Indian and Hispanic American populations. The epidemic of obesity is more severe in underrepresented minority groups in the US and increasingly in some developing countries. Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are put at increased risk for obesity by a variety of factors. This proposal relies on five ongoing longitudinal US and international samples with rich growth, demographic and psychological data on the subjects and their families. The samples include: 260 preschool children from southeast Michigan; two cohorts (100 each) from an American Indian population showing recent rapid increases in birthweight and obesity; 150 Costa Rican children studied from 1 year, who are now age 19; 1000 Chileans who are currently 5 years old and studied since 4 months; and 3,400 Finnish men and women with high rates of cardiovascular disease. The research training and research plans proposed in this project are closely linked to activities involving these 5 longitudinal projects. These ongoing research projects will be the framework for continued data collection, new data analysis, and comparative study. Dr. Betsy Lozoff, Director of the Center for Human Growth and Development and Professor of Pediatrics is the project mentor. An outstanding committee composed of leaders in child nutrition, behavior, development, obesity, biostatistics and health disparities will direct the training and advise the research. Dr. Gahagan proposes to explore the behavioral and psychological factors that cause additive risk for obesity in young children. While not ignoring the importance of genetics, nutrition, and physical activity, this work will promote understanding the role of poverty in childhood obesity. The hypothesis that children are put at risk for obesity and its consequent health problems by biologic and social factors including poverty, parental mental health, and parental-decision making about childhood nutrition and activity will be examined in depth in five different populations at risk. If obesity is to be prevented, it is critical to understand the precursors on multiple levels and target those factors that are modifiable for intervention.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award (K23)
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Pediatrics Subcommittee (CHHD)
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Grave, Gilman D
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University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Schools of Medicine
Ann Arbor
United States
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