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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Little Rock, Arkansas » Delta Obesity Prevention Research » Research » Research Project #414148


Location: Delta Obesity Prevention Research

2011 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The mission of the Delta Obesity Prevention Research Unit is to conduct nutrition research to prevent obesity in at-risk, rural populations in the Lower Mississippi Delta of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The Agricultural Research Service (ARS) is coordinating a major research endeavor that brings together the talents of ARS and other research cooperators in a tri-state region to accomplish the following: 1) Identify barriers and facilitators to adherence to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DG) and examine how differential profiles of adherence relate to obesity in children and adults of the Delta region (ARS HEALTH study); 2) extend the behavioral knowledge gained from ARS research studies and other food availability and food cost surveys in the Delta, to adapt existing DG eating patterns, such as the USDA Food Guide (MyPyramid) and the DASH Eating Plan, for the Lower Mississippi Delta population. Test the developed eating patterns for nutritional adequacy and feasibility of adoption by the Delta population. Concurrently, adapt DG physical activity recommendations for the Delta population and examine feasibility of adoption; 3) evaluate the effectiveness of the adapted DG eating patterns, with and without physical activity, in reducing weight gain and risk factors for obesity-related chronic disease in the Lower Mississippi Delta population through the use of interventional studies. Determine if diet-gene relationships underlie the effectiveness of the adapted eating patterns.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
The Delta Obesity Prevention Research Unit, in partnership with other ARS laboratories and research cooperators, has developed a strategic plan to improve the health of at-risk, rural populations of the Lower Mississippi Delta through obesity prevention research. Utilizing multi-faceted research approaches, this endeavor will provide a greater understanding of this population’s adherence to national dietary guidance for prevention of obesity and reduced risk for obesity-related chronic disease through the use of dietary and physical activity interventions using established scientific study designs and methods meeting the requirements for evidence based reviews. This cooperative research seeks solutions to these complex challenges through multidisciplinary team research and through cooperation with the general public, local government, policy makers, other institutions and agencies. Research internships addressing the objectives above may be created for university students in the tri-state area.

3. Progress Report
We established our demonstration garden at the pilot intervention school (Mabelvale Middle School) and identified an appropriate demographic paired-matched control school in the same school district (Henderson Middle School). Baseline data were collected at both schools, which included height, weight, and body fat, and survey data including fruit and vegetable intake, physical activity, school bonding, and a science and nutrition knowledge test. Physical activity data were also collected using a motion sensor, called an accelerometer, worn around the waist. Data about participating students' academic status prior to the start of the study (2009-2010 benchmark test scores, GPAs) were obtained from the Arkansas Department of Education and the Little Rock School District using the students' triand numbers (a state-assigned unique student ID number; using this ID prevents data from being linked back to a student by name). The full intervention was then pilot tested at Mabelvale for the entire school year (September 7, 2010 – May 13, 2011), and final data (same as baseline) were collected April 25-29 at Henderson and the week of May 16-20, 2011, at Mabelvale. Parental consent and child assent were obtained from 216 eligible children from Mabelvale, and 213 children from Henderson, respectively, for the measurements. During the pilot study year, 50 science-based garden lessons were completed (researched, designed, graphic art added, and full-color printed) and fully implemented and tested in 13 classes: five 6th grade classes, four 7th grade classes, and four 8th grade classes, totaling over 300 students. Revisions were made during the summer (May-July 2011) based on feedback from participating teachers, Delta Garden Study staff, and results of the initial process evaluation data. Four process evaluation instruments were developed and pilot tested during the pilot study year as well. All 8 full-scale study schools were successfully recruited for the 2011-2012 academic year; 4 intervention and 4 pair-matched controls, and the demonstration gardens have been established at each intervention school for the full-scale launch in August 2011. The ADODR monitors activities for the project by routine site visits, quarterly project review teleconferences for peer review of progress, and annual research workshops.

4. Accomplishments