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College of Human Ecology

Researchers part of new grant project targeting food, physical activity systems impact on child obesity prevention

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Two Kansas State University researchers are partners with Iowa State University on a more than $2.8 million grant to advance obesity prevention research.

David Dzewaltowski, professor of kinesiology, and Ric Rosenkranz, associate professor of human nutrition, will provide leadership in community-based research design and evaluation of the evidence-based SWITCH program offered through school-wellness coalitions.

The grant was announced March 26 by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and awarded through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative.

The researchers in the College of Human Ecology will advise the Iowa State team on design of the program to balance principles of evidence-based practice with local community needs and capacity. In addition, they will provide leadership to analyze program evaluation data. George Milliken, professor emeritus with the Kansas State University statistics department, will provide statistical consulting.

The subcontract supports approximately $240,000 of activity at Kansas State University over four years.

SWITCH, a registered trademark, is a multicomponent, ecological systems-based, Web-enabled intervention designed to work through schools to reach families. The strategy capitalizes on the coordinating structure and motivation provided through a school-based program to target three distinct behaviors known to impact childhood obesity — physical activity, screen time and eating habits — in a creative way by challenging children to "switch what they do, view and chew."

The team has the collective expertise in local food and physical activity systems change through curricula development, school programming for nutrition and physical activity, and dissemination of evidence-based programming needed to carry out the project, Dzewaltowski said. The project builds directly on an established line of research on the SWITCH program.

The education component will build innovative curricular models that link school leaders, teachers and parents in a Web-based learning network to enhance their ability to build and sustain school nutrition and physical activity local systems programming.

The extension component will evaluate the effectiveness of innovative school modules — and training — to enable teachers and school wellness coalitions to take coordinated action in creating healthier school environments.

The research component will evaluate the effectiveness of the supplemental school modules and determine the school-based factors needed for successful utilization of SWITCH.

Through teaching, research and outreach, faculty in the College of Human Ecology continually seek ways to nurture healthy children and family.

This article was posted on Tuesday, March 31, 2015, and is filed under College News, Food, Nutrition, Dietetics and Health, Kinesiology.