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Determinants and Consequences of Childhood Obesity

The main focus of this research area is to produce cutting edge research outcomes and population-based health promotion projects to address childhood obesity across diverse cultural contexts with special emphasis on Latino communities, local and global.

Our aims are to:

  • Biological and social determinants of childhood obesity including the developmental origins
  • Childhood obesity treatment including cultural minority and disadvantaged children
  • Community-level interventions utilizing farmer’s markets, grocery stores, work places, schools and restaurants
  • Interventions during pregnancy and early life to prevent the early onset of childhood obesity

Current Projects include:

  • Role of Parenting skills, style and family functioning in pediatric weight loss, PI: Rhee
  • Bio-psychosocial Determinants of Adolescent Obesity/Cardiovascular Risk, PI: Gahagan
  • Obesity Prevention, PI: Nader
  • Healthy Works, PI: Zive
  • Network for a Healthy California, PI: Zive


Role of Parenting skills, style and family functioning in pediatric weight loss

Family-based behavioral weight control programs are the most effective means of treating childhood obesity. Yet there is still great variability in a child’s success. The primary goal of this study is to determine, via direct observation methods, whether parenting skills and parenting styles are relevant to child BMI in a family-based weight control program. We will also evaluate whether or not there are differences in parenting skills and styles among overweight and normal weight children. The results of this study will inform the development of more effective treatment programs for overweight children.

Project Dates: 2009-2014
Total Funds Granted: $808,680
Director: Kyung Rhee, M.D., M.S.

Bio-psychosocial Determinants of Adolescent Obesity/Cardiovascular Risk

This NIH-funded research project is designed to further understanding of the environmental and social conditions related to the development of obesity in a high risk urban, Hispanic/Latino population. The aims of our research focus on how children develop circadian rhythms related to eating, sleeping and physical activity, and subsequently how these patterns lead to obesity. The goal is to unveil modifiable conditions in order to prevent obesity and related diseases including cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Project Dates: 2008-2013
Total Funds Granted: $2,796,637
Director: Sheila Gahagan, M.D., M.P.H.
Contact: Christine Williams 619-243-2422

Obesity Prevention

Multiple projects at national and local level addressing high rates of obesity; obesity prevention collaborative projects with San Diego County Master Plan for Obesity Prevention in Chula Vista, the “Healthy Eating, Active Community,” and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Contacts: Phil Nader, M.D.,
Howard Taras, M.D.,
Bron Anders, M.D.,

Healthy Works

Healthy Works is the San Diego County program of the national Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) initiative, a $372 million federally funded project designed to combat illness associated with obesity and tobacco use, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention through the American Recovery and Investment Act.
The initiative will drive systems and environmental changes that lessen risk behaviors and improve health.

Project Dates: 2010-2012
Total Funds Granted: $4,083,522
Director: Michelle Zive, M.S., R.D.
Contact: Beverly Tuzin, M.P.H., R.D., Project Director (619) 243-5627 or Jennifer Chandler, M.S., Project Coordinator (619) 243-5303

Network for a Healthy California

The Network for a Healthy California operates social marketing campaigns and programs designed to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity levels and food security among low-income families. The campaigns and programs include the Children's Power Play! Latino Campaign, African American Campaign, Retail Program, Physical Activity Integration, Worksite Program and San Diego Nutrition Network Collaborative (SDNN). SDNN works through nutrition education initiatives to address health inequities in the San Diego and Imperial region and to improve nutrition and physical activity behaviors, and to increase access to healthy foods among low-income residents, their families, and other community members.

Project Dates: 2008-2011
Total Funds Granted: $3,227,057
Director: Michelle Zive, M.S., R.D.
Contacts: Blanca Melendrez, M.S. 619-955-1041

The division performs NIH-funded research on the determinants and consequences of childhood obesity with special emphasis on Latino communities, local and global.