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USDA Announces Grants to Develop Childhood Obesity Prevention Programs

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

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2013 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced today $5 million in four grants to universities throughout the nation to develop childhood obesity intervention programs. The awards were made by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). USDA remains focused on carrying out its mission, despite a time of significant budget uncertainty. Today’s announcement is one part of the Department’s efforts to strengthen the rural economy.

“Obesity is the number one nutritional problem in America, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity rates have tripled in the past 30 years,” said Sonny Ramaswamy, NIFA director. “Our goal in funding these projects is to lower this rate in children and adolescents and put them on a healthy path for the rest of their lives.”

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 generating new knowledge of behavioral, social and environmental factors that influence childhood obesity and using this information to develop and implement effective family, peer, community and school-based interventions. The projects are focused on preventing overweight and obesity and promoting healthy behaviors in adolescents ages 15 to 19. Each award decision was made through a competitive selection process based on scientific merit.

Fiscal year 2012 awards include:

  • Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Ala., $25,000. This project will document taste preferences for fat and sweet foods in African American adolescents and enhance the research infrastructure and capacity in obesity, food product development and sensory evaluation research at Tuskegee University.
  • University of Kentucky, Lexington, Ky., $149,074. This project will examine the drivers of food shopping patterns, behaviors and food purchasing choices adolescents and their parents that could lead to interventions in the future.
  • Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, N.J., $149,992. This project will examine on-campus food choices of college students to help inform college dining policy.
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore., $4,671,604. This project will teach life skills, such as gardening, food preparation, and food preservation skills, in addition to nutrition and physical activity education to support sustainable healthy eating and adequate physical activity among 4-H soccer team players.

The grants are awarded through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) childhood obesity prevent program, which focuses on the number one nutrition-related problem in the United States. The program supports 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.

USDA has made a concerted effort to deliver results for the American people, even as USDA implements sequestration – the across-the-board budget reductions mandated under terms of the Budget Control Act. USDA has already undertaken historic efforts since 2009 to save more than $700 million in taxpayer funds through targeted, common-sense budget reductions. These reductions have put USDA in a better position to carry out its mission, while implementing sequester budget reductions in a fair manner that causes as little disruption as possible.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit


USDA is an equal opportunity provider and employer. To file a complaint of discrimination, write to USDA, Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Stop 9410, Washington, DC 20250-9410, or call toll-free at (866) 632-9992 (English) or (800) 877-8339 (TDD) or (866) 377-8642 (English Federal-relay) or (800) 845-6136 (Spanish Federal-relay).