Overview of lab and goals
Most people are not surprised to learn that our nation is facing an epidemic in pediatric obesity. Perhaps more surprising is the large disparity in the obesity rate between different racial groups. Obesity and its related co-morbidity are further exacerbated by socioeconomic status. One factor attributed to the current obesity epidemic is a decrease in physical activity. Some believe that if children simply increase their physical activity, that there would also be a reduction in the obesity epidemic. Unfortunately, regardless of their age, compelling children to be more physically activity is challenging. Researchers and policymakers often do not consider how variables such as physical activity policy, family and neighborhood life, community engagement, historical and social context, as well as other factors can have a huge impact on a child’s ability to be physically activity. In order to achieve our goal of getting children to be more physically active, researchers must acknowledge these issues.
The goal of the Pediatric Physical Activity Laboratory at UMass Amherst is to conduct research that acknowledges the above stated issues. In particular, our lab focuses on community-based physical activity interventions for the prevention of pediatric obesity, with a concentration on low socioeconomic status, ethnic-minority populations. In particular, our research focuses on two main areas:
- Policy-based interventions to increase physical activity in preschool children (2 yrs 9 months – 5 yrs)
- Utilization of community and family-based PA interventions to reduce the risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in minority children and pre-adolescents (6 – 12 yrs)