Points of Pride

Our OPC investigators have pioneered a wide range of large-scale, externally funded research initiatives.  Examples of a few novel research projects include:

The Milk of Paradise? Maternal weight change, breast milk composition, and infant growth.
The Mothers and Infants LinKed for Healthy Growth (MILK) study is funded by the National Institute for Child Health and Development (NICHD).

How could interventions be better designed to improve eating, activity, and weight-related problems across the life course in marginalized populations?
Funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and led by Dr. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, School of Public Health.

Could an increase in the local minimum wage change obesity-related risks over 5 years?

Funded by the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases; led by Dr. Caitlin Caspi, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.


supershelf_headerCan behavioral economic strategies encourage healthier food selection at Minnesota food shelves?

Funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Dr. Caitlin Caspi, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

gapsCould the largest federal food and nutrition program (SNAP) be reshaped to improve the diet and health of its 45 million participants?

Funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Dr. Lisa Harnack, School of Public Health.

storeThe STORE Study: Can local policies improve access to healthy foods in underserved communities?

Funded by the National Institutes of Health & Centers for Disease Control and led by Dr. Melissa Laska, School of Public Health.

  • Read more . . . Laska1 MN, Caspi CE, Lenk K, Moe SG, Pelletier JE, Harnack LJ, Erickson DJ. Evaluation of the first U.S. staple foods ordinance: impact on nutritional quality of food store offerings, customer purchases and home food environments. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2019;16(1):83. PMCID: PMC6751624

The START Study: Can delayed high school start times minimize unhealthy weight gain in adolescents?

Funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Dr. Rachel Widome, School of Public Health.


    The science of skipping breakfast: breakfastGetting teens to grab the most important meal of the day.
    Funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Dr. Marilyn Nanney, School of Medicine.


    PrintCan the family meal be revived? Getting today’s busy parents and kids cooking and eating together.
    Funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Dr. Jayne Fulkerson, School of Nursing.


    net-worksStarting early: Establishing healthy eating and activity habits among families with preschoolers to promote a lifetime of health.

    Funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Drs. Simone French, School of Public Health and Nancy Sherwood, HealthPartners Institute for Education & Research.


    eatPreventing childhood obesity while promoting a positive body image.

    Funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Dr. Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, School of Public Health.


    familyWhy eating together as a family matters.

    Funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Dr. Jerica Berge, Department of Family Medicine & Community Health.



    Can sit-stand workstations help reduce diabetes, heart disease, and stroke?

    Funded by the National Institutes of Health and led by Dr. Mark Pereira, School of Public Health.


    Obesity Prevention Studies

    Obesity Prevention Studies

    Evaluating Options for Non-responders: A SMART Approach to Enhancing Weight Loss (BestFIT)

    Developed explicitly to build optimal adaptive interventions, Sequential Multiple Assignment Randomized Trials (SMART) use experimental design principles to answer critical questions around adaptive interventions. This trial proposes a SMART to systematically evaluate variations in the therapeutic approach and timing for intervening with non-responders.

    —Principal Investigators Subcontract: Robert W. Jeffery, PhD (PI-Prime: Nancy Sherwood); funded 2014-2019



    Linking Primary Care, Communities and Families to Prevent Obesity Among Preschool Children (Net-WORKS)

    Net-WORKS is a 7-year study that aims to prevent obesity among low-income, preschool children through linking primary care, parent community education, and community-based food and physical activity resources. Five hundred (500) families with preschool-aged children will participate in the randomized study. The study will include a family advocate who will work with each family to make changes in the home environment related to healthy food choices, reducing screen time, and increasing physical activity. The grant is one of four projects funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute through the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

    —Co-Principal Investigators: Simone French, PhD and Nancy Sherwood, PhD; funded 2010-2017



    Minnesota Obesity Center (MNOC) Epidemiology and Intervention Core

    Funded since 1995, MNOC is an NIH National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases funded center grant designed to facilitate interdisciplinary research on the causes, prevention, and treatment of obesity. Dr. Robert W. Jeffery is the Director of the Epidemiology and Intervention Core, which provides high quality services for epidemiological and behavioral intervention studies to other Center investigators.
    —Principal Investigator: Allen Levine, PhD; Core Director: Robert Jeffery, PhD; funded 1995-2016


    Portion Size Effects on Body Weight

    The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has funded a 3-year grant entitled “Portion Size Effects on Body Weight: Free Living Setting”. The purpose of the study is to examine the effects of portion sizes on changes in body weight, energy intake, and psychobiological and cognitive mediators of energy intake, among a community sample of adults in a free-living setting.

    —Principal Investigator: Simone French, PhD; funded 2010-2014.



    Healthy Homes Healthy Kids: Pediatric Primary Care-Based Obesity Prevention

    The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has funded a 5-year grant through the HealthPartners Research Foundation. The “Healthy Homes Healthy Kids: Pediatric Primary Care Based Obesity Prevention” grant will evaluate the efficacy of a relatively low-cost obesity prevention intervention in at-risk children between 5 and 9 years of age. The long-range goal of the trial is to develop an intervention program for addressing behavioral contributors to children’s health and illness in medical care settings which can be widely utilized across a variety of settings; is acceptable to health care providers, parents and children; and will have the effect of reducing health risk factors in families and health care delivery costs.

    —Principal Investigator: Nancy Sherwood, PhD with a subcontract to Robert Jeffery, PhD; funded 2009-2014.



    Randomized Clinical Trial of a Weight Loss Program in Type 2 Diabetes (Take Charge)

    Nancy Sherwood (HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research) received a 2-year subcontract from the University of California-San Diego for a multicenter, randomized clinical research study funded by Jenny Craig, Inc. The goal of the study was to investigate whether participation in a commercial weight loss program promoted greater weight loss at one year in overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes compared to a usual care condition.

    —Principal Investigator: Nancy Sherwood, PhD with a subcontract to Robert Jeffery, PhD; funded 2012-2014)



    Evaluating Innovative Weight Reduction Strategies for College Students (CHOICES)

    The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute funded a 5-year grant entitled “Evaluating Innovative Weight Reduction Strategies for College Students”. This research developed and tested innovative strategies to help prevent unhealthy weight gain in college students using a social ecological approach. This project was part of a U01 mechanism and included two phases: a 2 year formative stage and a 24-month randomized controlled trial.

    —Principal Investigator: Melissa Laska, PhD, formally Leslie Lytle, PhD; funded 2009-2014



    Statewide Census of Existing Programs, Initiative and Policies that Target Diabetes Prevention and Care Delivery

    Funding was received from the MN Partnership for Biotechnology & Medical Genomics for the “Decade of Diabetes Discovery” (DoDD) project. This project identified programs, initiatives and policies currently operating or in the process of being developed that targeted diabetes prevention and care delivery in the state of Minnesota. The project provided baseline data for the state, allowed a mechanism for measuring improvements, and created the opportunity for conducting demonstration projects.

    —Co-Principal Investigators: Robert Jeffery, PhD and Nilay Shah, MD, Mayo Clinic; funded 2011-2013.


    Mobile Body Composition and Energy Metabolism Laboratory

    The Minnesota Partnership for Biotechnology and Medical Genomics awarded a 2-year grant to create a Mobile Obesity Laboratory, which enables the Mayo Clinic and the University of Minnesota to conduct outreach and outcomes-based research for obesity prevention and treatment. This “laboratory on wheels” is equipped with tools to measure calorie expenditure, body mass and fat content indexes, and to collect survey data. It is a unique mobile resource to enable large-scale phenotyping.

    —Principal Investigator: James Levine, PhD, Mayo Clinic with a subcontract to Robert Jeffery, PhD; funded 2010-2013


    Community Translation of a Lifestyle Intervention to Prevent Heart Disease and Diabetes (IN-DE-HEALTH)

    Robert Jeffery, University of Minnesota, was awarded a subcontract through Northwestern University (formally Indiana University) for a grant funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases entitled “Community Translation of a Lifestyle Intervention to Prevent Heart Disease and Diabetes.” IN-DE HEALTH (Intervening Now in Diabetes to Encourage Healthy Eating Activity, and Linkages to Health) is a randomized effectiveness trial to evaluate the health and economic effects of a community-based intensive lifestyle intervention for adult primary-care patients with elevated BMI and dysglycemia (either type 2 diabetes or prediabetes).

    —Principal Investigator: Ronald Ackerman, PhD, Northwestern University with a subcontract to Robert Jeffery, PhD; funded 2010-2013


    Novel Approaches to Weight Loss Maintenance (Keep-It-Off)

    Nancy Sherwood (HealthPartners Institute for Education and Research) was awarded a 4-year grant from the National Cancer Institute entitled “Novel Approaches to Weight Loss Maintenance”. The Keep-It-Off study evaluated the effectiveness of a new weight-loss maintenance intervention in a large-scale behavioral trial.

    —Principal Investigator: Nancy Sherwood, PhD with a subcontract to Robert Jeffery, PhD; funded 2006-2012.



    Environmental Interventions for Weight Gain Prevention (HealthWorks)

    The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases funded a 5-year grant, “Environmental Interventions for Weight Gain Prevention. HealthWorks was a randomized trial designed to evaluate the effectiveness of a multicomponent worksite intervention with strong environmental components in preventing weight gain.

    —Principal Investigator: Robert Jeffery, PhD; funded 2005-2012)



    Addressing Young Adult Obesity: Identifying Effective Opportunities for Prevention in 2-Year Community Colleges

    Melissa Nelson Laska, University of Minnesota, was awarded a 2-year grant through the American Heart Association—Midwest Affiliate. This research examined the individual, environmental, and social determinants of excess weight-gain and related health behaviors among a large, diverse population of two-year college students in Minnesota. The goal of the study was to provide important insights into the determinants of changes in weight-related health behavior and aid in the development of effective campus health promotion and long-term disease prevention strategies.

    —Principal Investigator: Melissa Laska, PhD, RD; funded 2009-2011



    Food, Attitudes and Body (FAB) Study

    Previous studies have suggested that commercial weight-loss programs can promote modest, but clinically significant, weight loss. One such program, Jenny Craig, incorporates several specific features that have independently been shown to be useful in promoting weight loss including individualized counseling, a low-calorie diet, prepackaged foods, and increased physical activity. Nancy Sherwood, PhD, University of Minnesota, through a subcontract to the University of California-San Diego, conducted a 3-year multicenter, randomized, clinical research trial funded by Jenny Craig, Inc. The “Food, Attitudes, and Body” study examined whether this particular commercial program was effective in helping people to lose weight and maintain that weight loss for two years.

    —Principal Investigator: Nancy Sherwood, PhD; funded 2007-2011



    Center for Transdisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer (TREC): Examining the Obesity Epidemic through Youth, Family, and Young Adults

    TREC was a center grant with overall goals of advancing transdisciplinary science in the understanding of obesity, youth, family, and cancer; supporting career development of new investigators in the field; and disseminating this scientific knowledge to broader audiences.

    —Center Director: Robert Jeffery, PhD; Project Principal Investigators: Simone French, PhD, Mindy Kurzer, PhD, Leslie Lytle, PhD, funded 2005-2011




    Previously Funded Pilot Grant Awards (and Publications):



    These grant awards were previously funded by OPC.


    Healthy Food and Beverages for Youth Sports
    Toben F. Nelson, ScD, Associate Professor, UMN—Epidemiology and Community Health
    01/01/15—12/31/16 OPC
    This pilot study proposes to research unhealthy aspects of the food environment and its impact on obesity in youth sports, and to identify opportunities for prevention and for creation of effective solutions.


    Effects of Home-based Exergaming Program on Preschool Children’s Physical Activity and Adiposity
    Zan Gao, PhD, Assistant Professor, UMN—School of Kinesiology
    03/01/15—02/28/17 OPC
    This pilot study plans to collect preliminary data needed for a large scale PA intervention aimed to reduce the obesity rate and improve cognition in preschool children.


    Exploring the Impact of Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Policy on Individuals and Populations
    Sarah Gollust, Assistant Professor, UMN—Health Policy and Management; Alexander Rothman, Simone French, Carlisle Ford Runge, Xuyang Tang
    08/18/14—08/17/15 OPC/HFHL
    This pilot study plans to examine sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) policy effects on behavioral outcomes as well as attitudes, norms and beliefs, employing a nonstudent SSB policy-relevant sample of participants, and exploring different ways of framing the policies.

    Healthy Savings Program Evaluation
    Lisa Harnack, Professor, UMN—Epidemiology and Community Health; Jean Abraham, Simone French, Julian Wolfson, Mary Ann Honors, Xuyang Tang
    06/17/14—06/16/15 OPC
    This study will provide pilot data to support an NIH proposal for an experimental trial evaluating the effects of a food discount program on the nutritional quality of food purchases and dietary intake over a prolonged period of time in a real-world setting.


    Reduce Screen Time/Displace SSB in the Home: Effect on BMI and Energy Intake Among Children (ET)
    Simone French, Professor, and Nancy Sherwood, Adjunct Associate Professor, UMN—Epidemiology and Community Health
    02/01/13 —01/31/14 MNOC/OPC
    The goal of this pilot study was to prevent weight gain among overweight Hispanic adolescents by intervening in the home environment to examine the effects of two clear environmental variables/ behaviors: SSB intake and TV/small screen viewing time.


    Designing a Food Benefit Program to Optimize Diet Quality for Obesity Prevention: Grocery Assistance Program Study (GAPS)
    Lisa Harnack, Professor, UMN—Epidemiology and Community Health
    08/01/12—01/31/13 OPC
    The goal of this pilot study was to evaluate whether prohibiting the purchase of foods high in discretionary calories with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits may improve the nutritional quality of foods purchased and consumed by program participants, especially when paired with an incentive to encourage the purchase of more nutrition food items.


    Clinic-Based Treatment of Childhood Obesity: The Feasibility of Recruitment and the Effectiveness of a Low-Intensity Stage
    Steven Stovitz, Associate Professor, UMN-Family Medicine
    07/01/11—06/30/12 OPC
    The purpose of this study was to assess whether primary care clinics can effectively treat childhood overweight and obesity
    Stovitz SD, Berge JM, Wetzsteon RJ, Sherwood NE, Hannan PJ, Himes JH. Stage 1 treatment of pediatric overweight and obesity: A pilot and feasibility RCT. Childhood Obesity 2014;10(1):50-7. PMCID: PMC3922232


    Body Composition among Somali, Hmong and Hispanic Parents and Preschool Children: Behavioral and Environmental Correlates
    Ellen Demerath, Associate Professor, UMN—Epidemiology and Community Health
    05/01/11—04/30/12 OPC
    This pilot study collected body composition data on mothers and their preschool children from three unique ethnic groups recruited into the pilot phase of the NETWORKS childhood obesity prevention study. Body composition patterns were described and demographic, behavioral and environmental correlates examined.


    Park Improvements, Behavioral Intervention, and Adult Obesity
    Yingling Fan, Assistant Professor, Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs
    02/1/11—01/31/12 OPC
    This research examined the potential synergistic effects of park-based environmental and behavioral interventions to promote physical activity in low-income, minority-dominant, urban neighborhoods. The design and intervention components addressed research needs in the field of the built environment and obesity prevention for stronger study designs that enable causal inferences to be drawn and include active interventions as well as observation of naturalistic environmental changes.


    Work Environment and Eating Behavior among Health Service Workers
    Kamisha Escoto, Research Associate, UMN—Psychiatry
    08-01-10—07/31/11 MNOC
    08-01-11—07/31/12 MNOC
    This pilot study examined associations between varied measures of the work environment and food choice/eating behavior among hospital-based health service workers; an occupational group that has among the highest rates of obesity in the US and suffers from stressful working conditions. Identifying stressful characteristics of work and unhealthy food choice/eating behaviors were critical to the design of future research studies aiming to clarify relationships between employment and obesity.


    Reduction in Adiposity and Change in Fuel Utilization by Viscous Dietary Fiber in Diet-induced Obesity in Rats
    Daniel Gallaher, Professor, UMN—Food Science and Nutrition
    08-01-10—07/31/11 MNOC
    08-01-11—07/31/12 MNOC
    This study investigated chronic consumption of viscous dietary fiber in rats fed an obesity-inducing diet, which leads to both obesity and insulin resistance on measures of adiposity, insulin resistance, inflammation, gene expression related to glucose and fatty acid metabolism, and fuel utilization. A goal of this project, if successful, was to provide a dietary alternative to pharmacological approaches to reduction in body fat. Outcomes further established the effectiveness of viscous polysaccharides on adiposity, as well as expanding our knowledge of the relationship between adiposity, inflammation, and adipokine secretion.


    Assessing the Home Food Environment of Somali and Hispanic Immigrant Families with Preschool-Aged Children
    Mary Hearst, Research Associate, UMN–Epidemiology and Community Health
    08-01-10—07/31/11 MNOC
    08-01-11—07/31/12 MNOC
    The purpose of this project was to refine and validate an existing home food inventory tool for low-income Somali and Hispanic families with preschool-aged children as a means of both understanding contextual influences on obesity and of determining the appropriate intervention strategies that may fit the needs of low-income immigrant households and communities. The goal was to produce a culturally-relevant and valid tool for assessing the home food environment.
    – Publication(s):
    Hearst MO, Fulkerson JA, Parke M, Martin L. Validation of a home food inventory among low-income Spanish and Somali-speaking families. Public Health Nutr 2013;16(7):1151-8.


    A Pilot Study to Explore Energy Expenditure and Energy Intake among Youth Sport Participants
    Toben Nelson, Assistant Professor, UMN–Epidemiology and Community Health
    08-01-10—07/31/11 MNOC
    08-01-11—07/31/12 MNOC
    This study assessed physical activity and tracked dietary intake among youth participating in organized sports programs in the greater Twin Cities metropolitan area. The primary goal was to assess within-subject differences in energy expenditure and energy intake on days when youth participated in organized sports activities and days they did not. This research was used to direct interventions that reshape youth sport programs to be consistent with obesity prevention goals.


    The Role of Small Molecule CD38 Inhibitors on the Development of Obesity and Obesity-Related Metabolic Disturbances
    Thomas A. White, PhD, Mayo Clinic–Anesthesiology
    08-01-10—07/31/11 MNOC
    08-01-11—07/31/12 MNOC
    This study researched the hypothesize that small molecule CD38 inhibitors (e.g., apigenin) would prevent the development of obesity. Successful completion of this project will lead to a better understanding of obesity and may lead to new therapeutic approaches to treatment.


    GSTA4 Down-Regulation: A Potential Link Between Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Obesity
    (Pilot & Feasibility Project ARRA Supplement No. 1)
    Edgar Arriaga, Associate Professor, UMN–Chemistry
    08/01/09–07/31/10 MNOC
    08/01/10–07/31/11 MNOC
    Research has shown that protein carbonylation is increased in adipose tissue in a variety of animal models of obesity and insulin resistance. The purpose of this study is to test the hypothesis that “down regulation of GSTA4 in murine and human obesity leads to increased protein carbonylation, decreased mitochondrial function, increased oxidative stress and contributes to the development of obesity-linked type 2 diabetes.”


    Role of Adipose Autophagy in Insulin Resistance
    (Pilot & Feasibility Project ARRA Supplement No. 2)
    Do-Hyung Kim, Associate Professor, UMN–Biochemistry, Molecular Biology & Biophysics
    08/01/09–07/31/10 MNOC
    08/01/10–07/31/11 MNOC
    The purpose of this project is to define the crucial molecular step of autophagy induction and the autophagy roles in the regulation of adipose energy metabolism and insulin resistance. The goal is to increase knowledge on autophagy-mediated mechanisms pertaining to metabolic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and insulin resistance.
    – Publication(s):
    Jung C-H, Ro S, Cao J, Otto N, Kim D-H. mTOR regulation of autophagy. FEBS Lett 2010;584(7):1287-95. PMCID: PMC2846630


    Effect of Weight Loss, Physical Activity and Genetic Variation on Serum Vitamin D Levels
    Robert W. Jeffery, Professor, UMN–Epidemiology and Community Health
    Kim Robien, Assistant Professor, UMN—Epidemiology and Community Health
    09/01/09— 08/31/10 TREC
    This study will test the individual and combined effects of weight loss through caloric restriction, physical activity, and weight regain on circulating levels of vitamin D in a randomized trial in 439 postmenopausal, overweight/obese, sedentary women (Seattle study), and in 210 participants from a weight loss-maintenance trial (UMN study).
    – Publication(s):
    Mason C, Xiao L, Imayama I, Duggan CR, Bain C, Foster-Schubert KE, Kong A, Campbell KL, Wang CY, Neuhouser ML, Li L, Jeffery RW, Robien K, Alfano CM, Blackburn GL, Mctiernan A. Effects of weight loss on serum vitamin d in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 2011;94(1):95-103. PMCID: PMC3127511


    Identifying Modifiable Determinants of Weight, Diet and Physical Activity among 2- and 4-Year College Students
    Melissa N. Laska (nee Nelson), Assistant Professor, UMN—Epidemiology and Community Health
    09/01/09—08/31/10 TREC
    The goal of this study is to describe and identify the individual, social, and contextual factors that yield the strongest associations with adverse weight status, diet, and physical activity patterns in 2-year and 4-year college students. The long-term goal is to better understand young adult lifestyles, particularly as they relate to obesity risk and cancer prevention, in a way that will help inform future research among this population and aid in the development and effective intervention strategies aimed at preventing excess weight gain at this age.
    – Publication(s):
    Laska MN, Pasch K, Lust K, Story M, Ehlinger E. Latent class analysis of lifestyle characteristics and health risk behaviors among college youth. Prev Sci 2009;10(4):376-86. PMCID: PMC2927491


    The Effects of Information in the Media on Antecedents of Weight Control
    Marco Yzer, Assistant Professor, UMN-Journalism
    02/01/08—01/31/09 TREC
    This research aims to examine how information in the media about eating and physical activity affects antecedents of obesity in an adolescent sample. Investigators will develop and test an innovative new measure of weight-relevant media information exposure and use this measure to reliably assess the relation between weight control information and people’s thoughts, feelings and behavior regarding weight control.


    Perinatal Influences on Infant Adiposity: The Minnesota Infant Nutrition, Neurodevelopment, and Obesity (MINNOwS) Study
    Ellen Demerath, Associate Professor, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    09/01/08—08/31/09 TREC
    The aims of this study are: 1) to test the effects of maternal body composition, gestational weight gain and weight history on the rate of infant growth and fat mass gains from 0-4 months of age; 2) to test the effects of reported infant appetite, feeding mode (breast/formula/complementary foods), style (feeding frequency, duration of feeds, on-demand, scheduled), and sleep patterns on the rate of infant growth and fat mass gains from 0-4 months of age; and 3) to examine the independent and interaction effects of maternal body composition and obesity and postnatal infant feeding behaviors on the rate of growth and fat mass gains from 0-4 months of age.


    Obesity Prevention for Overweight Children by Targeting Parent Behaviors, the Home Environment, and Family Functioning
    Simone French, Professor, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    09/01/08—08/31/09 TREC
    This study will test a family-based treatment plus family functioning intervention to examine its effects on body weight and weight-related behaviors among 3-5 year old overweight children.


    Weight Loss Parameters in Obese Breast Cancer Survivors
    Mindy Kurzer, Professor, UMN-Food Science & Nutrition
    09/01/08—08/31/09 TREC
    This pilot project is designed 1) to assess the feasibility of a weight-loss program combining calorie restriction and physical activity in obese breast cancer survivors, 2) to determine the effect of weight loss and maintenance on biomarkers associated with breast cancer risk and recurrence, and 3) to assess the impact of weight loss on quality of life of obese breast cancer survivors.


    Informing Measurement Strategies to Address Relevant Food Environments
    Melissa Nelson, Assistant Professor, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    09/01/08—08/31/09 TREC
    This research will examine food purchasing patterns and locations, as well as home food environments, among young adults across various lifestyle characteristics.
    – Publication(s):
    Nelson MC, Lytle LA, Pasch KE. Improving literacy about energy-related issues: The need for a better understanding of the concepts behind energy intake and expenditure among adolescents and their parents. J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109(2):281-7. PMCID: PMC 2763433


    Obesity, Elevated Blood Pressure and Insulin Resistance among American Indian School-Children: Identifying Family- and Environment-level Determinants
    Melissa Nelson, Assistant Professor, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    09/01/08—08/31/09 OPC/TREC
    The goal of this project is to study the family- and school-based influences on obesity, blood pressure, and risk of insulin resistance among 5,500 American Indian children attending schools on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.


    Trajectories of Optimal Pregnancy Weight Gain for Overweight and Obese Women
    Patricia Fontaine, Associate Professor, UMN-Family Medicine & Community Health Modeling
    10/22/08—10/21/09 OPC
    This project examines relationships between gestational weight gain trajectories and maternal and child health outcomes.


    GLP-1 Therapy of Weight Loss and Improved Glucose Tolerance in Obese Children: A Randomized, Controlled Pilot Study
    Aaron Kelly, Assistant Professor, UMN-Pediatrics
    11/01/08—10/31/09 MNOC
    11/01/09—10/31/10 MNOC
    The primary aim of this pilot is to examine the effects of six months of exenatide treatment on body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, body composition, and glucose tolerance in obese children with IGT.


    Regional Free Fatty Acid Uptake Assessed by Positron Emission Tomography in Humans: A Pilot and Feasibility Study
    Christina Koutsari, Assistant Professor, Mayo Clinic, Internal Medicine 11/01/08—10/31/09 MNOC
    11/01/09—10/31/10 MNOC
    This study will test the use of [1-11C] palmitate and PET to study FFA uptake into adipose tissue beds, skeletal muscle and liver.


    Role of Skeletal Hormones in Adipocyte Differentiation and Function
    Laura Mauro, Associate Professor, UMN-Animal Science
    11/01/08—10/31/09 MNOC
    11/01/09—10/31/10 MNOC
    The goal of this project is to determine the direct effects of a novel skeletal hormone, uncarboxylated osteocalcin (uOcn), on adipocytes.


    Bone and Cardiovascular Health in Obese Adolescents Following Bariatric Surgery
    Moira Petit, Associate Professor, UMN-Kinesiology
    11/01/08—10/31/09 MNOC
    11/01/09—10/31/10 MNOC
    The purpose of this pilot study is to examine the effects of bariatric surgery on indices of bone health and cardiovascular function in morbidly obese adolescents.


    A Randomized Controlled Trial of Standard Behavioral Weight-Loss Intervention on Reproductive Parameters in Obese Men
    Ruby Nguyen, Assistant Profession, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    12/01/08—11/30/09 OPC
    12/01/09—11/30/10 OPC
    This study examines whether a standard behavioral weight-loss intervention in obese men is associated with improvement of reproductive hormones and semen parameters to a level conducive to normal spermatogenesis.
    Nguyen RHN, Linde J, Redmon JB, De Jonge C. A pilot randomized controlled trial of lifestyle behavioral weight loss intervention on reproductive parameters among young, obese men. Presented at the 30th Annual Scientific Meeting of The Obesity Society, San Antonio, TX, Sept 20-24, 2012.


    Observational Ratings of Child Feeding Practices Among Preschoolers
    Jayne Fulkerson, Associate Professor, UMN-Nursing
    12/15/08—12/14/09 OPC
    12/15/09—12/14/10 OPC
    This study aims to comprehensively assess child feeding practices currently used by parents of at risk preschoolers and develop a methodology that can be used to eventually test which child feeding practices are most effective in preventing excess weight gain among children.


    Metabolic and Behavioral Effects of Breakfast Frequency and Quality in a Bi-ethnic Sample of Children
    Mark Pereira, Associate Professor, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    Timlin, Maureen, Postdoctoral Fellow, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    01/01/07—12/31/08 TREC
    This study is a randomized cross-over trial of a breakfast intervention in a bi-ethnic group of overweight and obese children to assess whether the frequency of eating breakfast, and the type of breakfast eaten, may play an important role in energy balance, dietary quality, and obesity risk.
    Pereira MA, Erickson E, McKee P, Schrankler K, Raatz SK, Lytle LA, Pellegrini AD. Breakfast frequency and quality may affect glycemia and appetite in adults and children. J Nutr 2011;141(1):163-8. PMCID: PMC3001239


    Pediatric Primary Care Obesity Prevention
    Nancy Sherwood, Research Fellow, HealthPartners Research Foundation
    01/01/07—12/31/07 TREC
    This study tests the feasibility of a relatively low cost intervention targeting obesity prevention in a health care delivery setting of pediatric primary care.


    Oxyntomodulin and the Regulation of Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis
    Colleen Novak, Instructor, Mayo Clinic, Endocrine Research Unit
    01/24/07—01/23/08 MNOC
    01/24/08—01/23/09 MNOC
    This study examines the actions of the intestinal hormone oxyntomodiulin on non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) in humans. It is hypothesized that OXM is one hormone that increases NEAT in response to positive energy balance.


    Preventing Childhood Obesity through Improved Parental Perception of Child Weight Status
    Harsohena Kaur, Assistant Professor, UMN-Pediatrics & Adolescent Health
    03/26/07—03/25/08 OPC
    The goal of this pilot study is to develop a process and materials to aid pediatricians in informing parents of preschoolers about their child’s weight status and provide appropriate recommendations to promote behaviors for healthy weight management.


    Changes in Inflammatory Markers of Young Women Following Exercise
    Andrea Arikawa, Postdoctoral Fellow, UMN-Food Science & Nutrition
    09/01/07—08/31/08 TREC
    09/01/08—08/31/09 TREC
    The purpose of this study is to identify changes in pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory factors caused by a physical activity program.
    Arikawa AY, Jakitsb HE, Flood A, Thomasd W, Grosse M, Schmitzf KH, Kurzer MS. Consumption of a high glycemic load but not a high glycemic index diet is marginally associated with oxidative stress in young women. Nutr Res 2015;35(1):7-13. PMCID: PMC4282943


    Cross-site: The Interaction of Childhood Height and BMI on Adiposity and Insulin Resistance
    Steven Stovitz, Assistant Professor, UMN-Family Medicine
    09/01/07—08/31/08 TREC
    The purpose of this study is to assess whether there is an interaction of childhood height and childhood BMI on the prediction of adiposity and insulin resistance.
    Stovitz SD, Hannan PJ, Lytle LA, Demerath EW, Pereira MA, Himes JH. Child height and the risk of young-adult obesity. Am J Prev Med 2010;38(1):74-7. PMCID: PMC2818981


    The Neighborhood and Home Food Environment Study
    Scott Shimotsu, PhD Candidate, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    09/01/07—08/31/08 TREC
    This study examines the relationship between neighborhood food availability of restaurants and fast food locales and household-level food purchases. The neighborhood-level environment is assessed by a geographic information system.
    French SA, Shimotsu ST, Wall M, Gerlach A. Capturing the spectrum of household food purchasing behavior: A review. J Am Diet Assoc 2008;108:2051-8. PMID: 19027408
    French SA, Wall M, Mitchell N, Shimotsu ST, Welch E. Annotated receipts capture food purchases from a broad range of sources. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2009;6:37. PMCID: PMC2714491


    Validation of Internet-Based Dietary Assessment
    Mark Pereira, Assistant Professor, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    01/12/06—01/11/07 TREC
    01/12/07—01/11/08 TREC
    The purpose of this study is to develop and validate a new method for assessing dietary intake for use in research relevant to obesity, cancer, and other diseases.


    Biological Determinants of Obesity in Teens
    Donald Dengel, Associate Professor, UMN-Kinesiology
    02/01/06—01/31/07 TREC
    02/01/07—01/31/08 TREC
    02/01/08—01/31/09 TREC
    This project examines a series of biological markers of glucose and lipid metabolism and inflammation and oxidative stress in youth between the ages of 15 and 18, who are from diverse economic and racial/ethnic backgrounds and are participating in the University of Minnesota TREC project titled “Etiology of Adolescent Obesity.”
    Dengel DR, Hearst MO, Harmon JH, Forsyth A, Lytle LA. Does the built environment relate to the metabolic syndrome in adolescents? Health Place 2009;15(4):946–51. PMCID: PMC2743682
    Dengel DR, Hearst MO, Harmon JH, Lytle LA. Impact of changes in screen time on blood profiles and blood pressure in adolescents over a two year period (Chapter 16). IN: Children and Exercise XXVII (Proceedings of the XXVII International Symposium of the European Group of Pediatric Work Physiology, Sept. 2011), Williams CA, Armstrong N (eds). Routledge: London, pp. 121-125, 2012.


    Physical Activity and Media in the Home Environment
    John Sirard, Assistant Professor, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    02/01/06—01/31/07 TREC
    The purpose of this study is to develop a self-report survey instrument that will comprehensively reflect the availability and accessibility of physical activity and media equipment in the home environment.
    Sirard JR, Nelson MC, Pereira MA, Lytle, LA. Validity and reliability of a home environment inventory for physical activity and media equipment. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2008;5(24). PMCID: PMC2386867


    A Clinic-Based Intervention Targeting Primary and Secondary Prevention of Childhood Obesity
    Martha Kubik, Associate Professor, UMN-Nursing
    02/03/06—02/02/07 OPC
    This pilot study will develop, implement and evaluate a clinic-based BMI measurement and behavioral counseling intervention to increase health provider assessment of annual BMI in children and delivery of targeted behavioral counseling to parents and children.
    Kubik MY, Story M, Davey C, Dudovitz B, Zuehlke E. Providing obesity prevention counseling to children during a primary care clinic visit: Results from a pilot study. J Am Diet Assoc 2008;108:1902-6. PMID: 18954581


    The Epidemiology and Etiology of Obesity among Youth in Urban India
    Melissa Stigler, Assistant Professor, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    02/17/06—02/16/07 OPC
    This study assesses the prevalence of overweight and obesity in urban Indian youth, and examines whether or not the prevalence covaries with socioeconomic status, gender, and/or grade. The study also examines what behavioral risk factors, as well as degree of “westernization,” are associated with increased BMI.
    Stigler MH, Arora M, Dhavan P, Tripathy V, Shrivastav R, Reddy KS, Perry CL. Measuring obesity among school-aged youth in India: A comparison of three growth references. Indian Pediatr. 2011;48(2):105-10. PMID: 20972296


    Evaluation of Mini-Farmers’ Markets to Improve Fruit and Vegetable Access and Consumption in Low-Income and Minority Communities
    Mark Mueller, Senior Fellow, Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy
    03/01/06—02/28/07 OPC
    The purpose of this study is to assess the impact that two neighborhood farmers’ markets (one on the Ebenezer campus and a second in Phillips or Near North) have on fruit and vegetable consumption in a cohort of 60 community members at each of the two inner city sites.


    Compliance with Wearing Physical Activity Accelerometers
    John Sirard, Assistant Professor, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    05/18/06—05/17/07 OPC
    The purpose of this study is to determine the effect of hypothesized compliance strategies on subject compliance with wearing a physical activity accelerometer. Hypothesized compliance strategies include completing a journal to record times when the device was worn and removed, showing a participant a graphical sample of accelerometer data, and making participation compensation contingent on the number of days with complete data.
    – Publication:
    Sirard JR, Slater ME. Compliance with wearing physical activity accelerometers in high school students. J Phys Act Health 2009;6(Suppl 1):S148-55. PMCID: PMC2964281


    Social, Cultural and Contextual Dimensions of Young Women’s Physical Activity
    Maureen O’Dougherty, Research Associate, UMN-Food Science & Nutrition
    06/01/06—05/31/07 TREC
    06/01/07—05/31/08 TREC
    The purpose of this research is to examine social, cultural and contextual factors that shape motivations for and barriers to physical activity among young women aged 18-30, during and after their participation in the University of Minnesota TREC project titled “Women in Steady Exercise Research (WISER).”
    – Publication(s):
    O’Dougherty M, Arikawa A, Kaufman B, Kurzer MS, Schmitz KH. Purposeful exercise and lifestyle physical activity in the lives of young adult women: Findings from a diary study. Women Health 2009;49(8):642-61. PMCID: PMC2829716
    O’Dougherty M, Kurzer MS, Schmitz KH. Shifting motivations: Young women’s reflections on physical activity over time and across contexts. Healt, Educ Behav 2010;37(4):547-67. PMCID: PMC3260940


    ZEB1 and the Development of Obesity
    Michel Sanders, Professor, UMN-Biochemistry
    11/1/06—10/31/07 MNOC
    11/1/07—10/31/08 TREC
    This project investigates whether ZEB1 plays a role in adipogenesis and whether individuals with early onset obesity have a mutation(s) in the TCF8 gene.
    – Publication:
    Saykally JN, Dogan S, Cleary MP, Sanders MM. The ZEB1 transcription factor Is a novel repressor of adiposity in female mice. PLoS ONE 2009;4(12):e8460. PMCID: PMC2794530


    Parents as the Agent of Change for Childhood Obesity
    Kerri Boutelle, Assistant Professor, UMN-Pediatrics
    11/1/06—10/31/08 OPC
    11/1/06—10/31/08 MNOC
    The primary aim of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of a parent-only treatment for childhood obesity, and compare the parent-only treatment to the current gold standard treatment of parent plus child.
    – Publication(s):
    Boutelle KN, Cafri G, Crow S. Parent-only treatment for childhood obesity: A randomized controlled trial. Obesity 2011;19(3):574–80. PMCID: PMC4008332


    Identifying Novel Roles of Lipocalin 2 in Insulin Action and Glucose Metabolism
    Xiaoli Chen, Assistant Professor, UMN-Food Science & Nutrition
    11/1/06—10/31/07 TREC
    11/1/07—10/31/08 TREC/MNOC
    This study aims to discover the biological significance of lipocalin 2 and to define the role and mechanism of lipocalin 2 in the regulation of insulin resistance and inflammation. The outcomes will provide new insight into the role of lipocalin 2 as a novel player in adipose tissue inflammation and insulin resistance.
    – Publication:
    Zhang J, Wu Y, Zhang Y, Leroith D, Bernlohr DA, Chen X. The role of lipocalin 2 in the regulation of inflammation in adipocytes and macrophages. Mol Endocrinol 2008;22(6):1416-26. PMCID: PMC2422824


    Hypothalamic Acyl-CoA Metabolism and Food Intake Regulation
    Douglas Mashek, Assistant Professor, UMN-Food Science & Nutrition
    11/1/06—10/31/07 TREC
    11/1/07—10/31/08 MNOC
    This study proposes to determine how the source and composition of acyl-CoAs affect intracellular metabolism and control of food intake, as well as to test the effects of overexpressing mtGPAT in the hypothalamus on altering fatty acid and acyl-CoA metabolism, and subsequently, neural signaling and food intake.


    Behavioral Characteristics of Diet: Developing Survey Instruments for Ethnically Diverse Populations
    Melissa Nelson, Assistant Professor, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    11/1/06—9/30/07 TREC
    The purpose of this research is to validate and refine new survey tools for assessing specific aspects of dietary intake and related characteristics among African American, Latino and Caucasian adolescents.
    – Publication(s):
    Nelson MC, Lytle LA. Development and evaluation of a brief screener to estimate fast food and beverage consumption among adolescents. J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109(4):730-4. PMCID: PMC 2727452
    Davis JN, Nelson MC, Ventura EE, Lytle LA, Goran MI. A brief dietary screener: Appropriate for overweight Latino adolescents? J Am Diet Assoc 2009;109(4):725-9. PMCID: PMC 9328270


    Comparing Childhood Weight-for-Age to Body Mass Index in the Prediction of Adolescent Obesity and Chronic Disease Risk Factors
    Steven Stovitz, Assistant Professor, UMN-Family Medicine
    11/1/06—10/31/07 TREC/OPC
    This study investigates whether weight-for-age proves as accurate as body mass index in assessing a child’s risk for adolescent obesity and associated cardiovascular risk factors.
    – Publication(s):
    Stovitz SD, Pereira MA, Vazquez G, Lytle LA, Himes JH. The interaction of childhood height and childhood BMI in the prediction of young adult BMI. Obesity 2008;16(10):2336-41. PMCID: PMC2747360
    Stovitz SD. Shorter adults, yet taller children: What’s up? Br J Nutr 2009;102(3):329-30. PMID: 19175948


    GIRK$: A New Obesity Gene?
    Kevin Wickman, Associate Professor, UMN-Pharmacy
    11/1/06—10/31/07 TREC
    11/1/07—10/31/08 MNOC
    The premise of this project is that the identification of new genetic factors predisposing individuals to unhealthy weight gain may improve risk assessments and reveal novel targets for pharmacological interventions designed to treat obesity.
    – Publication:
    Perry CA, Pravetoni M, Teske JA, Aguado C, Erickson DJ, Medrano JF, Luján R, Kotz CM, Wickman K. Predisposition to late-onset obesity in GIRK4 knockout mice. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2008;105:8148-53. PMCID: PMC2430374


    Do Obesity Prevention Interventions Cause Eating Disorders? A Dialogue about What Has Been Learned in the Past Ten Years
    Simone French, Professor, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    02/17/05—02/16/06 OPC
    This symposium was designed to provide an educational outreach to the academic, professional practice, and broader community on the issue of the promotion of healthful eating and physical activity behaviors in the broader population to prevent excess weight gain and obesity. The purpose was to promote a better understanding of the health benefits and potential risks of promoting behaviors related to energy balance, and to discuss their applicability to different population segments such as children, adolescents, and adults; normal weight and overweight individuals; and specific groups considered to be at higher risk for obesity development.


    Weight Control Behaviors: Short-Term Effects on Body Weight, Eating and Physical Activity Behaviors, and Psychological Well-being
    Simone French, Professor, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    02/17/05—02/16/06 OPC
    The purpose of the study is to examine whether engaging in recommended behaviors for weight control is associated with changes in eating behaviors, physical activity behaviors, body weight change, or change in psychological variables over a one-month period.


    Barriers and Facilitators to Prolonged and Exclusive Breastfeeding among Mexican Immigrant Mothers
    Margaret Kersey, Assistant Professor, UMN-Pediatrics
    03/02/05—03/01/06 OPC
    This study examines the barriers and facilitators to prolonged and exclusive breastfeeding, which are known to protect against later childhood obesity, among Mexican immigrant mothers in Minnesota.


    The Family Mealtime Environment of Families with 8-10 Year Old Children
    Jayne Fulkerson, Associate Professor, UMN-Nursing
    08/24/05—08/23/06 OPC
    The purpose of this study is to develop and administer a survey regarding family mealtime environments to parents and 8- to 10-year-old children. Results of this study will be used to gain more information regarding typical mealtime environments of families with 8- to 10-year-old children so as to inform an intervention to prevent obesity through the promotion of healthful meals at home.
    – Publication(s):
    Fulkerson JA, Story M, Neumark-Sztainer D, Rydell S. Family meals: Perceptions of the benefits and challenges among parents of 8-10 year old children. J Am Diet Assoc 2008;108:706-9. PMCID: PMC2587472
    Fulkerson JA, Nelson MC, Lytle L, Moe S, Heitzler C, Pasch KE. The validation of a home food inventory. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2008;5(1):55. PMCID: PMC2587472


    An Observational Study of Physical Activity Along Phase II of the Minneapolis Greenway
    Kevin Krizek, Assistant Professor, UMN-Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs
    08/18/05—08/17/06 OPC
    The purpose of this study is to characterize the current population of Greenway bicycle and walking trail users with respect to demographics, and uses of the Greenway with respect to the flow of walking and cycling, peak times/days of use, and reasons for using the trail.


    Impact of Nutrition Labels on Fast Food Choices
    Lisa Harnack, Associate Professor, UMN-Epidemiology & Community Health
    12/01/05—11/31/06 OPC
    The aim of this study is to examine the effect of nutrition labeling and value size pricing on fast food menu choices.
    O’Dougherty M, Harnack LJ, French SA, Story M, Oakes JM, Jeffery RW. Nutrition labeling and value size pricing at fast-food restaurants: A consumer perspective. Am J Health Promot 2006;20(4):247-50. PMID: 16555797
    Harnack LJ, French SA, Oakes JM, Story MT, Jeffery RW, SRydell SA. Effects of calorie labeling and value size pricing on fast food meal choices: Results from an experimental trial. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2008;5:63. PMCID: PMC2621234