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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; and 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
During FY2011, the University of Southern Mississippi planned and implemented a feasibility study to test the procedures, lesson plans, and measurement instruments intended to be used in the main study for FY2012. The feasibility study included 66 participants divided into two different intervention programs. One program focused on 5 key messages from the dietary guidelines (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and Solid Fats and Added Sugars). The second program focused on Solid Fats and Added Sugars. Fifty-six participants completed the feasibility study with complete measures for both pre- and post-intervention. Focus groups were held with a sample of participants completing each of the programs to gather feedback that was then used to make adjustments to the nutrition lessons and data collection procedures. In addition, the release of the USDA's new website for dietary guidelines adherence required adjustments to the education materials to be used in the main study for FY2012. Due to funding uncertainty and at the concurrence of the Delta OPRU Research Peer Coordinating Panel, the study design of the main study was revised to a within subjects design, with each participant serving as her/his own control. In addition, the measure of dietary intake was changed from three 24-hr dietary recalls at the beginning, end, and six-months post-intervention to a Food Frequency Questionnaire (FFQ) at enrollment, beginning of the intervention, and at the end of the intervention. A fourth FFQ may be administered six months post-intervention should research funding be maintained. During June and July 2011, recruitment of participants for the main study began. Data collected during the enrollment period included height, weight, blood pressure; participants' perceptions of eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and sugar-sweetened beverages; and demographic information. 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. Computer simulations provide approaches to address healthy changes in diet. Nutrition researchers are beginning to use computer simulations that can evaluate the feasibility of making healthy dietary changes by starting with the foods people already consume. These simulations can lay the groundwork for educational programs that emphasize manageable dietary changes. Scientists at the University of Southern Mississippi as part of the Delta Obesity Prevention Research Unit, Little Rock, AR, wanted to see if this approach could be utilized in the Lower Mississippi Delta where obesity rates are among the highest in the U.S. and where fewer than 7% of Delta adults consume a healthy diet. They simulated healthier diets for residents of the Mississippi Delta by replacing the foods they actually ate with healthier alternatives and determining the nutritional impact. The simulations showed, for example, that replacing grain-based desserts with fruit cocktail would decrease calorie intake by almost 100 calories a day, whereas replacing soft drinks with water would decrease calorie intake by over 200 calories a day, yielding a potential weight loss of 22 pounds over a year's time. These findings are significant and simulations such as these can form the basis for educational interventions/approaches that promote feasible and beneficial dietary changes

Last Modified: 06/27/2017
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