Page Banner

United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Related Topics


Location: Delta Obesity Prevention Research

2012 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:
Phase I of the full-scale trial was completed during the 2011-2012 academic year with four intervention and four pair-matched control schools. The intervention schools included Monticello Middle School, Harrisburg Middle school, Highland Middle School, and Searcy County Schools. The control schools included Trumann Middle School, Joe T. Robinson Middle School, Manila Middle School, and Clinton Middle School. Demonstration gardens were established at the four intervention schools during the spring – summer 2011, and expanded by the participating students in the fall of 2011 at each school during a Delta Garden Study (DGS) "Dig Day" event, which included digging and building additional raised beds in the 1-acre garden spaces and preparing DGS-created recipes using produce from the gardens. Baseline data were collected at all eight schools, which included height, weight, and body fat, and survey data including fruit and vegetable intake (FVQ), physical activity (PAQ), 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 (2010-2011 benchmark test scores, GPAs) were obtained from the Arkansas Department of Education and the school districts 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). Baseline data were collected from 894 students at the four intervention schools, and 884 students at the control schools. Mid-point measures (FVQ and PAQ only) were collected from 823 intervention and 823 control school students. At the final time point, all study measurements were collected from 841 intervention school students and 833 control school students, representing a 94% retention rate. A total of 50 science-based garden lessons were implemented in 43 classes across the four intervention schools: in fourteen 6th grade classes, nineteen 7th grade classes, and ten 8th grade classes. These students participated in DGS lessons in the garden a minimum of 90 minutes per week (two 45-minute lessons) for the entire school year. Process evaluation measures were collected throughout the year on stratified samples of the lessons, classrooms, and teachers. The final four schools (two intervention and two control) were successfully recruited for Phase II (2012-2013 academic year) of the full-scale trial, and the demonstration gardens have been established at each intervention school. These schools will receive the same 50-lessons, 90-minutes per week program exposure, and the same outcome and process evaluation measures as the Phase I schools.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 06/23/2017
Footer Content Back to Top of Page