OSU receives $5 million to study rural obesity in children

January 13, 2011
Roger Beachy, director of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, announcing the $5 million grant. Photo: Lynn Ketchum
Roger Beachy, director of the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, announcing the $5 million grant. Photo: Lynn Ketchum

CORVALLIS, Ore. — Oregon State University has received a grant of nearly $5 million to develop an obesity prevention program for children in rural Oregon.

Roger Beachy, director of USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), announced the award during a press conference on the OSU campus today. "Childhood obesity is a problem many families face across the nation," he said. "However, children in rural areas face obstacles such as limited access to fresh healthy food, physical activity and recreational programs that help prevent obesity."

Project directors Deborah John and Kathy Gunter from OSU Extension were awarded $4,878,865 to start the program, called "Generating Rural Options for Weight-Healthy Kids and Communities" (GROW HKC). Cooperative Extension in Oregon and six other Western states will develop a plan to prevent obesity among rural children and field test it in rural communities within three Oregon counties: Clackamas, Columbia and Klamath.

The project's Oregon State University advisory team members will include faculty from public health; nutrition and exercise sciences; human development and family sciences; education; and OSU Extension's family and community health, Master Gardner, and 4-H programs.

Extension specialists from Oregon and partner states Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, Washington, Texas also are part of the team, as are school district superintendents, health care providers and parents and volunteer groups.

The team will use the assessments to begin an obesity-intervention program in September 2012 in the three Oregon counties to promote healthy eating and physical activity. The goal is to improve the body mass index among rural children aged 5-8 years old.

The grant is awarded through NIFA's Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI).

Author: Judy Scott