The candidate's overarching goal is to develop diet interventions to address pediatric obesity that are specifically tailored to an individual's metabolic profile. Her specific interest is the interaction of diet quality with the changes in insulin secretion and action that occur during the pubertal transition. To achieve this objective, the candidate has identified, as a mentoring team, experts in reproductive/metabolic endocrinology and statistical genetics, both of whom have a proven track record of successful research, collaboration, and productivity. The mentored training secured by this award will involve coursework in genetics, metabolism, and endocrinology;training in laboratory skills;and completion of the candidate's funded pilot study involving a diet intervention in African American peripubertal girls. As the coursework and training progress, there is a planned transition to developing a research protocol, and training in the skills needed for its conduct. Emphasis also will be on cultivation of funding opportunities for future projects. The candidate's proposed research project builds on her previous and ongoing research in adults and children, which has identified dietary factors that affect insulin secretion and obesity. Specifically, the proposed study aims to determine if a diet specialized for the unique metabolic characteristics of peripubertal girls (i.e. low insulin sensitivity/high insulin secretion) is more effective than a standard diet in, 1) decreasing insulin secretion and increasing insulin sensitivity;2) achieving greater weight loss and weight-loss maintenance;and 3) decreasing estradiol concentration, which may affect fat deposition during the pubertal transition. The specialized diet emphasizes modification of diet quality, particularly carbohydrate quantity/quality. The ultimate goal of this project, and related future research, is to develop dietary guidelines for overweight adolescents tailored to their individual metabolic profile. Effective modification of the diet to improve metabolic and obesity-related outcomes will reduce reliance on pharmacological agents. The outstanding scientific environment afforded by the UAB will allow for continued professional growth and development. Further, the K99 will be the perfect opportunity for the to transition into an independent investigator in the area of pediatric obesity.

Public Health Relevance

Dietary interventions that can be utilized to improve metabolic outcomes and enhance weight-loss and weight-loss maintenance among the pediatric population are imperative. Puberty has been identified as a critical period of body composition determination. Training afforded by this K99 award will better position the candidate to complete the proposed study, which represents the first step in developing a diet that is specific for the unique metabolic characteristics of peripubertal girls.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
Career Transition Award (K99)
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Study Section
Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases B Subcommittee (DDK)
Program Officer
Linder, Barbara
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University of Alabama Birmingham
Schools of Allied Health Profes
United States
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Hanks, Lynae J; Newton, Anna L; Casazza, Krista (2013) Getting to the height of the matter: the relationship between stature and adiposity in pre-pubertal children. Ethn Dis 23:71-6
Hanks, L J; Casazza, K; Ashraf, A et al. (2012) Calcium homeostasis may influence resting energy expenditure with effects most apparent in early pubertal girls. Acta Paediatr 101:e363-8
Ellis, Amy C; Casazza, Krista; Chandler-Laney, Paula et al. (2012) Higher postprandial serum ghrelin among African-American girls before puberty. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab 25:691-6
Casazza, K; Hanks, L J; Hidalgo, B et al. (2012) Short-term physical activity intervention decreases femoral bone marrow adipose tissue in young children: a pilot study. Bone 50:23-7
Casazza, Krista; Cardel, Michelle; Dulin-Keita, Akilah et al. (2012) Reduced carbohydrate diet to improve metabolic outcomes and decrease adiposity in obese peripubertal African American girls. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 54:336-42
Casazza, Krista; Hanks, Lynac J; Beasley, T Mark et al. (2011) Beyond thriftiness: independent and interactive effects of genetic and dietary factors on variations in fat deposition and distribution across populations. Am J Phys Anthropol 145:181-91
Casazza, Krista; Hanks, Lynae J; Fernandez, Jose R (2011) Shorter sleep may be a risk factor for impaired bone mass accrual in childhood. J Clin Densitom 14:453-7
Hanks, Lynae J; Casazza, Krista; Alvarez, Jessica A et al. (2010) Does fat fuel the fire: independent and interactive effects of genetic, physiological, and environmental factors on variations in fat deposition and distribution across populations. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab 23:1233-44