Family Resiliency Center | Illinois

Research

STRONG Kids Program

The STRONG* Kids Program is a comprehensive approach to the study of childhood obesity and health within an ecological framework. 

*Synergistic Theory and Research on Obesity and Nutrition Group

Click here for a link to our recently launched project:
STRONG KIDS 2: A cells-to-society approach to nutrition

Overview | Research Team | Publications | Funding Partners | Contact

Project Overview

The purpose of this cross-disciplinary project is to examine how genetic, family, community, child care provider, cultural, and media factors contribute to the development of childhood weight imbalance, obesity, health behaviors, and health beliefs. Findings will serve as the basis for obesity prevention and intervention programs. The research team includes investigators from the following disciplines: Communication, Human and Community Development, Food Science and Human Nutrition, Kinesiology and Community Health, Social Work, Medicine, and the University of Illinois Extension. The original study sample included 400 preschool-aged children enrolled in child care programs and their families in small urban communities in Illinois. All families completed an extensive panel survey; height, weight, and saliva samples also were collected from the children enrolled in the study.

Several related projects are underway which focus on specific variables such as children’s media exposure and nutritional knowledge; parent-child relationships as potential moderators of health practices; families’ health literacy as it relates to weight management and body image; the role of child care providers in promoting healthy eating; the impact of food marketing and promotion on food choices; the interaction of genetic, social, and behavioral risk factors; and evidence-based outreach efforts.

This project is unique in that it provides extensive opportunities for undergraduate students to be involved in a large-scale research effort. Student teams deliver surveys to child care centers, collect height, weight and saliva samples from children, participate in home observations, and assist in data entry. They complete background readings and literature searches and gain experience in project coordination. 

Overview | Research Team | Publications | Funding Partners | Contact

STRONG Kids Subprojects

Several subprojects are underway which utilize survey and biometric data to examine specific variables such as children's media exposure and nutritional knowledge; parent-child relationships as potential moderators of health practices; families' health literacy as it relates to weight management and body image; the role of child care providers in promoting healthy eating; the impact of food marketing and promotion on food choices; and the interaction of genetic, social, and behavioral risk factors. To learn more about these subprojects visit their pages using the links below.

Family Health Awareness Study

Food Marketing to Young Children

Obesity Risk Biomarkers

Preschoolers' Food Preferences and Nutritional Knowledge

The Role of Head Start and Child Care Classrooms in Early Childhood Obesity: A Cumulative Risk Model

Overview | Research Team | Publications | Funding Partners | Contact

Research Team

Principal Investigators

  • Barbara Fiese, PhD, Professor and Director, Family Resiliency Center
  • Kristen Harrison, PhD, Professor, University of Michigan, Communication Studies
  • Kelly Bost, PhD, Professor, Human and Community Development (HCD)
  • Brent McBride, PhD, Professor, HCD, and Director, Child Development Laboratory
  • Sharon Donovan, PhD, Professor, Food Science & Human Nutrition (FSHN)

Co-Investigators

  • Diana Grigsby-Toussaint, PhD, Assistant Professor, Kinesiology and Community Health
  • Janet Liechty, PhD,  Assistant Professor, School of Social Work and College of Medicine
  • Margarita Teran-Garcia, PhD,  Assistant Professor, Food Science and Human Nutrition
  • Angela Wiley, PhD,  Associate Professor, Human and Community Development

Project Coordinator

  • Jen Themanson, M.S. Ed.

Post-Doctoral Research Associates

  • Blake Jones, PhD

Doctoral Students

  • Gwen Costa-Jacobsohn
  • Dipti Dev
  • Anthony Wang

Undergraduate Research Assistants 2012-2013

  • Lily Benner
  • Amanda Berngard
  • Allison Byrne
  • Armi Cortes
  • Kendall Fox
  • Haley Highfill
  • Simi Jhajj
  • Alison Kobel
  • Samantha Labus
  • Emily Murphy
  • Laura Penrod
  • Gayatri Satam
  • Jenny Tumba
  • Maria Salwan

Overview | Research Team | Publications | Funding Partners | Contact

Undergraduate Research Assistants

This project is unique in that it provides opportunities for undergraduate students to be involved in a large-scale research effort. Student teams deliver surveys to child care centers, collect height, weight and saliva samples from children; participate in home observations; and assist in data entry. They also complete background readings and literature searches and gain experience in project coordination.

If you are an undergraduate student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and would like to apply to be a part of the STRONG Kids Research Team please learn more at http://familyresiliency.illinois.edu/students.html

 

Child measurement

Publications

Harrison K., Bost K.K., McBride B.A., Donovan S.M., Grigsby‐Toussaint D.S., Kim J., Liechty J.M., Wiley A., Teran‐Garcia M. and Jacobsohn G. C. Toward a developmental conceptualization of contributors to weight imbalance in childhood: The Six‐Cs model. Child Development Perspectives. 2011; 5(1):50‐58.

Harrison, K., Liechty, J.M., & The STRONG Kids Program (2012). Preschooler's media exposure and dietary habits: The primacy of television and the limits of parental mediation. Special Issue: Children, Media, and Health: Journal of Children & Media, 6(1), 18-36.
DOI:10.1080/17482798.2011.633402 (4/25)

Dev., D., McBride, B., et. al. (STRONG Kids research team). Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics benchmarks for nutrition in child care 2011: Are child care providers across contexts meeting recommendations? Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, vol. 113, no. 10, p. 1346, Oct. 2013.

Dev., D., McBride, B., Fiese, B., Jones, B., Cho, H. Risk factors for overweight/obesity in preschool children: An ecological approach. Childhood obesity, vol. 9, no. 5, October 2013.

 

Overview | Research Team | Publications | Funding Partners | Contact

Funding Partners

  • Illinois Council on Food and Agricultural Research (C-FAR),  Sentinel Program Seed Grant
  • Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), Bureau of Child Care and Development
  • Office of the Provost, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • Department of Human and Community Development
  • Family Resiliency Center
  • Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition
  • Department of Communication
  • Department of Kinesiology and Community Health
  • School of Social Work
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Contact Information

Jen Themanson, Project Coordinator
Email: jthemans@illinois.edu
Telephone: 217-244-5119

Links

Listen to STRONG Kids Student Researchers here.

STRONG Kids student researchers discuss their research. Part 1 | Part 2

 

FRC Themes