The University of Illinois at Chicago has announced a four-year, $16 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to study policy and environmental factors that influence youth behaviors related to nutrition, physical activity, obesity, and tobacco use.
The grant will support UIC's ImpacTeen project, which is working to provide comprehensive, definitive research to help legislators and policy makers develop effective policies and make informed decisions with respect to youth health issues. ImpacTeen is a component of Bridging the Gap, a partnership between UIC and the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan.
The new study will examine national food marketing on television as well as legislation that impacts local environments. At the community level, the researchers will assess school district wellness policies designed to promote more physical activity and create healthier food environments. Among other things, schools will be surveyed on the availability of various foods and beverages à la carte, through vending machines, in school stores, and as part of the school meal; the availability of fast foods; kids' participation in school meal programs; classroom snack policies; and physical education and other activities for students.
"There are numerous long-term health consequences associated with the rise in obesity in kids and significant healthcare costs associated with that," said Frank Chaloupka, principal investigator of the study and director of the Health Policy Center at UIC's Institute for Health Research and Policy. "With this project we can add to the evidence about what works to impact kids' diets, activity levels, and, ultimately, their weight outcomes."