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USDA Announces Support of Research to Confront Childhood Obesity

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, April 25, 2011 – Responding to the growing obesity epidemic that threatens our nation’s health and economic well-being, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced research, education and extension grants to 24 institutions aimed at reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity across the nation.

“We know that for our children to grow up and win the future, they need nutritious diets and healthy lifestyles that enable them to reach their fullest potential,” said Roger Beachy, NIFA director. “USDA supports the research and development of science-based methods that can reverse the trend of rising obesity and assist children and their families in adopting healthy eating habits that will last a lifetime.”

The long-term goal of USDA-sponsored obesity research is to reduce the prevalence of overweight and obesity among children and adolescents. This year’s funding is focused on supporting research programs aimed at obesity in children ages two through eight. Each award decision was made through a competitive selection process based on scientific merit.

Projects were funded in Arkansas, California, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia. Highlights include:

  • Three projects in California that will develop obesity prevention strategies for minority and under-served children.
  • A project at Pennsylvania State University that will develop a graduate-level training course to train students in obesity prevention methods.
  • A project at West Virginia University that partners scientists with public schools to develop site-specific intervention strategies that can be used by parents, teachers and community members.


A full list of awardees can be found online at:

The grants are awarded through USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) and administered through NIFA. AFRI’s childhood obesity prevention supports single-function research, education and extension projects; multi-function integrated research, education and extension projects.

AFRI is NIFA’s flagship competitive grant program and was established under the 2008 Farm Bill. AFRI supports work in six priority areas: plant health and production and plant products; animal health and production and animal products; food safety, nutrition and health; renewable energy, natural resources and environment; agriculture systems and technology; and agriculture economics and rural communities.

Improving child nutrition is a focal point of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that was signed by President Obama in December 2010. This legislation reauthorizes USDA'S child nutrition programs, including the Summer Food Service Program and the National School Lunch Program, which serves nearly 32 million children each day. It will allow USDA, for the first time in over 30 years, the chance to make real reforms to the school lunch and breakfast programs by improving the critical nutrition and hunger safety net for millions of children. Investigating science-based interventions and studying obesity in children can also strengthen these programs. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act is the legislative centerpiece of First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! initiative. To learn more, visit

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future.  More information is available at:


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.  To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice), or (202) 720-6382 (TDD).