Weight-related problems are of great public health concern given their high prevalence, health consequences, and unequal distribution across ethnic/racial backgrounds and income levels. The Healthy Weight Promotion in Youth and Families from Diverse Communities Applied Epidemiology Training Program is designed to train future scientists for successful research careers aimed at ensuring positive weight-related health among youth and families from diverse communities. This program is unique in its combined focus on five areas: 1) comprehensively addressing the broad spectrum of weight-related problems, including obesity, poor dietary intake, low physical activity, body dissatisfaction, and disordered eating; 2) promoting positive weight- related health among children and families during critical periods of the life course; 3) achieving greater health equity by reducing disparities in weight-related problems across ethnic/racial and income levels; 4) engaging in both observational epidemiologic population-based studies and intervention/evaluation research (clinical, community, and policy-oriented); and 5) translating research into action within different settings. This program is designed to provide rigorous, innovative, and pragmatic research training. As a new program, the number of trainees will gradually increase: Year 1: 3 trainees (1 predoc and 2 postdoc); Year 2: 5 trainees (2 predoc and 3 postdoc); Years 3-5: 7 trainees (3 predoc and 4 postdoc). Predoctoral trainees will be funded for up to four years and will complete a PhD in Social and Behavioral Epidemiology. Postdoctoral trainees will be funded for up to three years. Training will promote interdisciplinary learning, collaborative experiences, innovative thinking, rigorous research skills, and leadership capacity to ensure successful and impactful research careers. Training includes: 1) individualized mentoring by experienced interdisciplinary faculty; 2) experiential learning through active involvement in observational and intervention research projects; 3) interdisciplinary professional training for leadership development; 4) formal class work; 5) peer group work; 6) deep dive workshops specifically designed to meet the goals of this training program; and 7) other rich learning opportunities across the University of Minnesota. Benchmarks of success include engagement in research on the broad spectrum of eating and weight-related health in youth and families from diverse communities; dissemination of findings to professional and public audiences; grant writing, successful course work, mentoring of others, and obtaining a research position. The 22 faculty mentors, come from varied disciplines, are well-funded, and have extensive experience conducting innovative and impactful research aimed at healthy weight promotion during critical stages of the life course in diverse populations. Faculty have mentored many successful predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees. The Program Director has an Outstanding Investigator Award from NHLBI that will provide relevant learning and research opportunities for trainees. This training program addresses a crucial need for preparing future scientists to reduce the high prevalence and disparities in weight-related problems.

Public Health Relevance

There is an urgent need to reduce the high prevalence and unequal distribution of weight-related problems, including obesity, poor dietary intake, inadequate physical activity, body dissatisfaction, and disordered eating behaviors. It is essential to train the next generation of scientists in how to conduct innovative and impactful research to ensure positive weight-related health among youth and families from diverse communities. There is a clear need for the proposed training program, which will utilize a health equity lens to address a broad spectrum of weight-related problems across critical periods of the life course and ensure that future scientists are trained in both observational and intervention research and in translating research into action.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Institutional National Research Service Award (T32)
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NHLBI Institutional Training Mechanism Review Committee (NITM)
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Pratt, Charlotte
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University of Minnesota Twin Cities
Schools of Medicine
United States
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