MSUToday
Published: June 18, 2014

Nursing professor furthers childhood obesity research thanks to NIH grant

Contact(s): Jill Vondrasek College of Nursing office: (517) 353-8742 jill.vondrasek@hc.msu.edu, Sarina Gleason Media Communications office: (517) 355-9742 sarina.gleason@cabs.msu.edu

Mildred Horodynski, a professor in the College of Nursing, is continuing to expand her research efforts focused on healthy infant feeding and childhood obesity thanks to a $430,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Horodynski has spent several years working with new mothers to help promote appropriate and beneficial feeding styles and practices known as infant-centered feeding in order to reduce obesity risk.

“One of the key factors contributing to childhood obesity is poor feeding practices during infancy,” she said during an earlier study. “Because mothers are primarily responsible for infant feeding and have profound influences on growth patterns, they need support in learning how to appropriately feed their infants.”

Since rapid weight gain during infancy is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity later in childhood, the new research – Tools for Teen Moms: Reducing Infant Obesity Risk – will focus on early intervention strategies that are necessary to promote beneficial infant-centered feeding among adolescent women. These strategies will include text message reminders, an infant feeding website, and a Facebook page to increase feeding through daily behavioral challenge activities.

To date, this approach has essentially gone untested for its feasibility among this younger, at-risk maternal population and looks to find innovative ways to reduce obesity issues that plague more and more children in their earlier years.

Horodynski’s study is part of the Trifecta collaborative, which brings together colleagues from other colleges within the university, including the College of Communication Arts & Sciences and College of Engineering, and focuses on advancing the delivery of health services for underserved populations. Horodynski and co-author Kami Silk, a professor and associate dean of graduate studies in communication arts and sciences, have partnered to help bring new research findings to light.

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