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School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

South Carolina Researcher Leads Efforts to Fight Childhood Obesity

Though he’s still in the early stages of his career, Dr. Michael Beets, associate professor, is a leader in the field of public health interventions targeting children’s physical activity and healthy eating. Dr. Beets has published 127 peer-reviewed articles and garnered more than $7 million in external funding since he joined the University of South Carolina’s Arnold School of Public Health in 2008. Using community-based participatory research, his work focuses on developing strategies that practitioners can integrate into afterschool programs and summer camps to prevent or reverse obesity and improve children’s health overall (See video).

Michael Beets

[Photo: Dr. Michael Beets]

These efforts have led to four grants from the National Institutes of Health (i.e., three RO1s and one R21) while helping shape the national conversation on what policies these programs should adopt as well as how to best meet these standards. The 2015 Arnold School Faculty Research Award Winner and 2016 USC Breakthrough Star has turned this research into 40 scholarly publications and works to ensure the findings are translated back into the communities he studies. “Dr. Beets is someone whose impact is felt well beyond the scientific community,” says Dr. Justin Moore, associate professor of family and community medicine at Wake Forest. “His important work has ramifications for the scientific community, the practice community, and the community in which he lives.”

Dr. Beets shares his gifts not only with the children whose lives he improves but through his interactions with students and colleagues as well. Entrepreneurial in nature, he clearly knows his way around the grant application process and mentors others to share his forward-thinking vision that ensures results. “I have not met another researcher like Dr. Beets,” says Dr. Brie Turner-McGrievy, health promotion, education, and behavior assistant professor. “He has the unique combination of being very productive while simultaneously being approachable and supportive of junior faculty. He is a leader in his field and will continue to bring international recognition to USC around childhood obesity, physical activity and nutrition.”