Food insecurity is a significant public health concern and is defined as limited or uncertain access to enough food for an active and healthy lifestyle. Food insecurity impacts 15.7% of households with children in the U.S., but its effects on child growth and developmental trajectories are not well documented. In this K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award project, I propose research aims to better understand the impact of early life food insecurity on child growth and development. I will utilize data from two ongoing birth cohort studies at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) to assess the effects of food insecurity during pregnancy and intermittent and persistent food insecurity during early childhood on 1) maternal obesity and cognitive function, and 2) childhood growth and cognitive development trajectories from early childhood to age 18. This will be the first study to simultaneously examine the role of food insecurity trajectories in child and adolescent cognitive development and obesity. This research will combine cutting edge body composition measurement, cognitive assessment and epidemiologic methods and will contribute important substantive knowledge on the food insecurity-obesity and the food insecurity-cognitive function associations within children and adolescents. This work will also provide novel insight to inform evidence-based recommendations and interventions around child and adolescent obesity. During the K99 phase, my work will be situated within the top- tier research environments of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health, the CCCEH and the NY Obesity Research Center, all of which have a strong focus on policy translation and community partnerships. Situating my K99/R00 work in a research environment focused on policy translation and analysis will provide me with experience and training in how research findings and data can contribute to policy debates and to the generation of new data driven policies. The training goals of this K99/R00 are to become skilled in complex longitudinal data analyses, body composition assessment in children and adolescents using bio-impedance and magnetic resonance imaging, child cognitive development assessment using diagnostic tests, and collection and analysis of quantitative data within a birth cohort. As part of the R00 phase, I will gain field experience in collecting anthropometric and cognitive data from children. This work is a logical extension of my prior and ongoing research in obesity, nutrition and food insecurity, and will fill gaps in training that I need to launch my career as an independent scientist working at the intersection of epidemiology, urban health and social policy.
Food insecurity is a significant public health concern, impacting nearly 16% of U.S. households with children, but its effects on child growth and developmental trajectories are not well documented. To better understand the impact of food insecurity on child growth and development, I propose utilizing data from two ongoing birth cohort studies to assess the effects of intermittent and persistent early life food insecurity on 1) maternal obesity and cognitive function, and 2) childhood growth and cognitive development trajectories from early childhood to age 18. This K99/R00 project will combine targeted career development, training and mentorship and cutting edge epidemiologic research using body composition measurement and cognitive assessment methods, that will provide novel insights to inform evidence-based recommendations and interventions to support heathy growth trajectories and cognitive development in children.