Childhood Obesity Prevention

Dr. Tom¬†Power¬†, his graduate students (Veronica Bonilla-Pacheco, Jackelyn Hidalgo-Mendez, Yadi Olivera, Guadalupe Ramos, and Karina Silva), post-doctoral research associate Ashley Beck, and numerous faculty colleagues are working on three large-scale projects on childhood obesity prevention – one funded by NIH and two by the USDA. In these projects, we are conducting basic research on parenting and children’s eating behavior, as well as developing, evaluating, and disseminating a family-focused obesity prevention program for parents of preschool children. A particular focus of this research is on how parents influence children’s self-regulation in eating and non-eating contexts. This research is being conducted in collaboration with colleagues at the Baylor College of Medicine, Colorado State University, the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver, North Carolina State University, Temple University, and WSU Extension.

A brief overview of our approach can be found in this video produced as part of an earlier USDA grant.

Our research team meets every week. We go over ongoing research tasks and discuss a variety of readings about parenting research, methodology, and current concerns. Students work on preparing and coding data on a variety of tasks including those assessing children’s stress and coping behaviors, children’s eating behavior, and parents’ scaffolding behaviors. Graduate researchers get experience helping organize the work of a research lab, leading seminar-type discussions, mentoring undergrads, and coding and analyzing data collected on a variety of tasks. Undergraduate researchers get hands-on experience with a variety of research tasks, learn what graduate school would be like, and have a chance to lead discussions and conduct their own research projects if they wish.