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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Location: Delta Obesity Prevention Research

2013 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 II of the full-scale trial was completed this year, with two intervention and two pair-matched control schools, bringing the total number of participating schools to 12. The two 2012-2013 intervention schools were Cloverdale Middle School (Little Rock) and Yellville-Summit Middle School (Yellville). Their control school matches were Northwood Middle School (North Little Rock) and White Hall Middle School (White Hall). Demonstration gardens were established at the two intervention schools during the summer of 2012, and expanded by the participating students in the fall of 2012 at each school during a Delta Garden Study (DGS) "Dig Day" event. This included digging and building additional raised beds in the 1-acre garden spaces and preparing DGS-created recipes using produce from these gardens. Baseline data were collected at all 4 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 was also collected independently using a motion sensor, called an accelerometer, worn around the waist. Through an ongoing arrangement with the Arkansas Research Center (repository of AR Department of Education data), academic data (e.g., standardized test scores), and social risk data (e.g., attendance, absenteeism, fighting) was obtained for the previous year (baseline) and for the active intervention year (final). At the final timepoint for Phase II, study measurements were collected from 297 intervention and 377 control school students, representing a 78% retention rate (Phase I had a 94% retention rate). For the entire full-scale trial, including 6 intervention and 6 control schools, a total of 2,348 subjects completed the study, an 89% retention rate overall. A total of 50 science-based garden lessons were delivered in 65 classes across both phases in the 6 intervention schools. This included 19 6th-grade classes, 26 7th-grade classes, 18 8th-grade classes, and 2 special education and alternative classes. As a result of this research, we have collected a massive amount of data that we are currently cleaning, creating data sets, and prioritizing for data analysis. All data will be cleaned before it can be matched to the Department of Education data, de-identified, and sorted for analysis. The final outcome data (findings) available for the first outcome variable (likely fruit and vegetable intakes) are anticipated at the end of this fiscal year. We are establishing a timeline for completing analyses on each variable as the data are ready.

4. Accomplishments

Last Modified: 07/25/2017
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