COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State University Extension is part of a $4.5 million project targeted at combating childhood obesity.
OSU Extension's Family and Consumer Sciences program will receive $745,744 for the five-year project, which is being led by Kansas State University and involves an additional five states (Indiana, Michigan, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin).
The Childhood Obesity Prevention Grant was one of 24 funded at the end of April by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National Institute of Food and Agriculture. The goal of this project is to find ways to help rural communities create a culture of healthy eating and physical activity to prevent childhood obesity in low-income young children, said Karen Bruns, assistant director of OSU Extension in charge of Extension's Family and Consumer Sciences programs. Bruns will serve as Ohio's principal investigator on the project.
"Each state will choose two rural communities to be involved in the project," Bruns said. "We will work with community coalitions to complete an assessment of their communities, choose interventions from a menu of approaches, and implement interventions to prevent childhood obesity." The focus will be on programs serving 4-year-old children.
One of the communities will serve as a control and will receive no additional assistance. The other community will receive training and ongoing support.
"The hypothesis is that coaching will help the community address identified needs and will result in greater behavior change in nutrition and physical activity," Bruns said. "By the end of the project, we hope to develop a program that provides us with valid information that communities throughout Ohio can later use as they address this issue of childhood obesity on the local level."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1 in 7 low-income children ages 2 through 4 are obese.
Leaders from the states involved in the project plan to meet in May to begin planning.