Obesity is a serious public health problem in the United States and increases risk for cancer and other chronic diseases. Obesity as well as cancer rates are high for poor, low-income, Hispanic, and African- American populations, compared with Caucasians and individuals from higher-income families. Reducing obesity can play an important role in reducing these disparities in cancer and chronic disease rates. Innovative intervention strategies are needed to reduce this gap in obesity prevalence between the low-income underserved population and higher-income groups. Many low income families depend on food banks to supply foods each month. Food banks, therefore, are potential existing channels to reach low-income individuals, who are at higher risk for obesity and obesity-related diseases, with health education messages. However, very little has been done to explore this opportunity. The HFB provides food assistance to approximately 500,000 low-income individuals annually (24 percent of individuals served in TX) with the help of its 400 community based agencies (churches, food pantries, and community kitchens). A goal of the HFB is to impact client health behaviors related to weight. However, effective and acceptable methods and strategies to accomplish this goal are unknown, and are of great interest to the HFB. Our proposed study represents a model initiative in which the HFB, its agencies, and the Children's Nutrition Research Center (CNRC) at Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) collaborate and coordinate efforts to build the capacity within the HFB system, to provide nutrition education for obesity prevention as well as cancer and other chronic disease risk reduction. This innovative and highly significant R21 application will investigate the potential of food banks to integrate nutrition education into their usual operations using community-based participatory research (CBPR) principles. This innovative study will provide data that will enable us to establish effect sizes, sample size, as well as a successful intervention for obesity prevention, and reduction of cancer and other chronic disease risks, using a food bank setting for a future R01, that will include large scale randomized control trial of the intervention(s).

Public Health Relevance

The HFB and other food banks in the United States provide an untapped channel to reach a large number of low-income underserved at-risk populations, and improve their dietary behaviors associated with cancer prevention. The proposed collaborative research and training activities seek to develop an intervention in obesity prevention/reduction in order to reduce cancer risks due to energy imbalance/obesity among low- income food insecure individuals using this untapped channel.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-RPHB-A (50))
Program Officer
Agurs-Collins, Tanya
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Baylor College of Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
Zip Code
Dave, Jayna M; Thompson, Deborah I; Svendsen-Sanchez, Ann et al. (2017) Development of a Nutrition Education Intervention for Food Bank Clients. Health Promot Pract 18:221-228