The Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) College of Nursing recently received a community grant from the George Bush Presidential Library Foundation to study the childhood obesity epidemic throughout the Brazos Valley.

Alison Pittman

Alison Pittman, MSN, RN, CPN

Alison Pittman, MSN, RN, CPN, assistant professor at the TAMHSC-College of Nursing, is principal investigator of the one-year grant.

“The growing obesity epidemic of American children and the potential consequences of inactivity are well outlined in current research,” Pittman said. “What is harder to determine is why, despite the efforts of educational programs that encourage physical activity, some children choose not to participate in physical exercise as they grow into their middle school years.”

Pittman’s research project, Brazos Valley S.P.E.E.D. (Students Promoting Exercise and Excellent Diet), will examine the choices Brazos Valley middle school children make regarding physical exercise and determine the underlying causes for inactivity in these children.

A long-term study goal is to implement a three-component educational program for at-risk students at local middle schools. The program will include a mentorship aspect with TAMHSC-College of Nursing students, as well as physical activity and meal/snack preparation guidelines. The positive effects of mentorship, increased physical activity and dietary teaching will be studied as it relates to children’s exercise and nutrition habits over a two-year period.

— Holly Shive

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