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Faculty & Staff Honors

Faculty & Staff Honors

Michigan: Faculty to Investigate Parent Self-Regulation and Influence on Childhood Obesity

University of Michigan School of Public Health professor, Dr. Katherine W. Bauer, recently received a 5-year, $3.8M grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute to research the influence of a parent’s self-regulation — the capacity to control emotions, thoughts, and behaviors — on childhood obesity. University of Michigan School of Public Health faculty Drs. Alison Miller and Niko Kaciroti, and University of Michigan School of Kinesiology faculty Dr. Leah Robinson are collaborators on this study.

“There’s been a great deal of interest in how an individuals’ own self-regulation impacts their weight status. What is rarely considered, however, is that parents are creating the environments where young children eat, sleep, and are active, so it may be that parents’ self-regulation has an important influence on the development of obesity among children,” said Dr. Bauer, assistant professor of Nutritional Sciences at Michigan Public Health. “This study is an incredible opportunity to understand the dynamics of families and ultimately, be able to identify new and improved methods to support parents and address childhood obesity.”

The study will recruit 300 mother/child pairs and follow them through the preschool years to understand how mothers’ self-regulation, and the interaction of mother and child self-regulation, impact children’s growth. Dr. Bauer says current pediatric obesity prevention and treatment approaches don’t consider that low self-regulation may limit parents’ ability to adhere to clinical recommendations despite strong motivation to do so. “This research will shed light on alternative intervention strategies that could help parents with poor self-regulation better support their children’s health,” she said.

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