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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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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
Our progress during the last 12 months has built directly upon the accomplishments of the prior year. In the prior year, our feasibility study was initiated and completed. As a result, we have spent the last several months performing activities related to data management, data analysis, and the preparation of scientific abstracts and journal articles based on the results of the feasibility study. The results of the feasibility study indicate that short-term increases in physical activity levels are achievable among Delta residents with the help of a step counter and a plan to help them obtain more physical activity. However, the results did not show that providing a step counter yielded any additional benefit beyond providing information to the residents about how to increase their physical activity levels. Analysis of the daily step counter data has revealed that residents of the Delta who take at least 8300 - 9100 steps each day are more likely to reach the recommended level of physical activity (30 minutes a day) than residents who take fewer steps. Thus, people should be encouraged to increase their steps to at least 8300 steps per day to help ensure that they are getting enough physical activity. Another analysis was designed to better understand how people increase their physical activity, and at what intensities. The results demonstrate that people who increased the number of steps each day do so in a purposeful manner, and that the additional steps are accumulated through increases in moderate-intensity physical activity. This information will be used to develop the larger randomized study that we have planned for next year, where the aim is to test the effectiveness of pedometers on changing body weight in the Lower Mississippi Delta population. In addition to compiling and publishing the results from the feasibility study, we also conducted further formative research in order to prepare for the planned randomized trial. This work involved two distinct activities: 1) the analysis and publication of data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to better define physical activity targets related to health, and 2) an environmental audit of physical activity resources in the Rapides Parish, the site of the intervention study. 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
1. Identification of step-based physical activity guidelines. Motivating adults to increase their physical activity levels is a major concern for the prevention of obesity. Pennington Biomedical Research Center researchers, as part of the Delta Obesity Prevention Research Unit, Little Rock, AR, identified the number of steps per day that are required to achieve public health recommendations for physical activity. Adults should take between 8000 and 9000 steps per day in order to maximize their chances of achieving adequate levels of physical activity. This accomplishment will be used to design a randomized trial to test the effectiveness of pedometers on changing body weight in the Lower Mississippi Delta population.

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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