Department of Kinesiology

School of Health and Human Sciences

Dr. Laurie Wideman Awarded $2.8 Million NIH Grant for Childhood Obesity Study

Laurie WidemanCongratulations to Kin faculty member Dr. Laurie Wideman and team for receiving a $2.8 millon award from the National Institutes of Health Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD).  The experienced team of investigators, headed by Dr. Esther Leerkes (HDFS) come from multiple disciplines across UNC Greensboro,  including Kinesiology’s Dr. Laurie Wideman, HDFS’ Dr. Cheryl Buehler, and Dr. Susan Calkins, and Nutrition’s Lenka Shriver.

The project, entitled, “Biopsychosocial Predictors of Obesity During the First Two Years of Life” seeks to address the prevalence of Childhood Obesity as a public health crisis.  Keep reading below to read the full abstract or to learn more about exciting KIN research at UNC Greensboro click here.

Abstract: The prevalence of childhood obesity is a significant public health crisis.  Overweight children experience significantly more health and psychosocial problems compared to their same age peers and are likely to carry these problems with them into adolescence and adulthood. In this proposal, we describe a study of the early development of risk for obesity in childhood. The risk for obesity in early childhood is likely determined by multiple biological, psychological, and social factors that are observable in infancy.  We propose a conceptual model, a biopsychosocial model, of the early development of risk for obesity that focuses on several key biological, psychological, and social factors. Using an experienced team of investigators from multiple disciplines, we propose to investigate this model with an innovative, multi-method, longitudinal study of infants and their families (n = 288) that addresses these factors across the first two years of life. Our two key aims focus on understanding  (1) factors that predict infant weight gain and (2) the ways in which this weight gain and infant’s social interactions with mothers in feeding and non-feeding contexts predict self-regulation, and subsequent obesity risk at age 2. The study has important implications for the development of targeted prevention and intervention programs for families and children that may be utilized early in development, prior to the onset of weight gain that is difficult to reverse.