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FAMILY TRANSITIONS FOLLOWING THE BIRTH OF A SIBLING
PI: Brenda L. Volling, Ph.D.
Collaborators: Heather Flynn Ph.D., Richard Gonzalez, Ph.D., Timothy Johnson, M.D.
Funding: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

The Family Transitions Study (FTS) is a longitudinal investigation of 241 families expecting their second child. The main goal of FTS is to examine changes in the firstborn child’s adjustment following the infant sibling’s birth and changes in family relationship functioning including martial relationships, parental well-being, family social supports, and work-family stress. Families were visited predominantly in their homes throughout the course of the study where we conducted parent interviews, videotaped observations of parent, sibling, and marital interaction, and assessments of children’s social understanding. By understanding how families adapt to the birth of a second child, we can develop pre-birth education classes to assist parents and their children.

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ABC TODDLER STUDY
PI(s): Julie Lumeng and Alison Miller
Collaborators:  Delia Vazquez, Kate Rosenblum, Niko Kaciroti

SELF-REGULATION AS A BIOLOGICAL MECHANISM FOR EXCESS WEIGHT GAIN IN TODDLERS
Self-regulation is a broad set of skills involving control of behaviors, attention, emotions, and motivation, that begins to develop very early in the lifespan. Poor bio-behavioral self-regulation can contribute to a number of unhealthy behaviors as individuals seek and consume substances that can be calming at a neurobiological level. Toddlerhood is a time when food is an accessible substance with biological properties that may aid the individual’s ability to self-regulate. The ABC-Toddler Study examines the development of bio-behavioral self-regulation in food and non-food contexts longitudinally among low-income children ages 21 through 33 months. Data collection is ongoing.

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ABC FEEDING STUDY
PI(s): Julie Lumeng
Collaborators: Alison Miller, Kate Rosenblum, Niko Kaciroti

LOW INCOME MOTHERS’ FEEDING BELIEFS AND PRACTICES AS CHILD OBESITY RISK FACTORS
It is well-recognized that parenting style impacts obesity risk; parenting style was included in the Expert Recommendations for the Prevention, Assessment, and Treatment of Childhood Obesity. Despite the perceived importance of maternal feeding styles to childhood obesity risk, the characterization of maternal feeding styles remains relatively simplistic and their potential change over time, particularly in relation to the child’s weight status, is relatively unexplored. The current study seeks to identify maternal feeding styles among low-income mothers of 4- to 6-year-old children. The current study uses multiple methods including laboratory and home-based observations of feeding; semi-structured interviews; and self-report questionnaires to assess concurrent and longitudinal associations with child BMI. An improved understanding of maternal feeding styles, particularly within low-income populations, would inform the development of more effective intervention and prevention programs.

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ABC KIDS STUDY
PI(s): Julie Lumeng and Alison Miller
Collaborators: Ashley Gearhardt, Niko Kaciroti

BIOBEHAVIORAL MECHANISMS LINKING STRESS AND OBESITY IN LOW-INCOME CHILDREN
Our early work has made clear that the pathways linking stress to obesity via eating behavior are complex and multifactorial, and involve biologic and behavioral pathways. The ABC-Kids study considers mechanisms that could mediate links between stress and obesity, specifically sensitivity to food as a reward and ability to delay gratification for food. How such eating behaviors cluster and develop over time, and how different aspects of stress (i.e., chronic vs. immediate stressors) relate to these behaviors remains unknown. We examine the cross-sectional relationship of psychosocial stress (chronic and immediate stress) with obesity-promoting eating behaviors (including satiety responsiveness, reinforcing value of food, and the ability to delay gratification for food) and body mass index (BMI) z-score at age 7 years, and examine longitudinal associations of chronic stress and reactivity to stress early in life (age 3 years) with changes in obesity-promoting eating behaviors between ages 3 and 7 years.

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GROWING HEALTHY STUDY
PI(s): Julie Lumeng
Collaborators: Alison Miller, Karen Peterson, Niko Kaciroti, Holly Brophy Herb, Millie Horodynski

ENHANCING SELF REGULATION AS AN OBESITY PREVENTION STRATEGY
Nearly one in five 4-year-old children in the United States is obese. Socioeconomic disparities are already apparent at this age, with low-income children having a 1.5 to 2 times higher obesity prevalence compared to middle- to upper-income children. Such disparities in obesity prevalence are poorly understood. Further, there are few obesity prevention programs targeting the preschool age range that have been rigorously tested, and their effects tend to be modest. Growing Healthy is funded by the USDA (Agriculture and Food Research Initiative – Childhood Obesity Challenge Area). Growing Healthy is a randomized controlled trial that examines a novel obesity prevention program in a sample of 600 low-income preschoolers attending Head Start. This study is a collaboration between the University of Michigan (UM) and Michigan State University (MSU), our state Extension Program and 3 Head Start agencies. Intervention implementation is ongoing.

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HEAD START EXPOSURE AND CHANGES IN CHILDREN’S BMI
PI(s): Julie Lumeng and Tom Reischl
Collaborators: Alison Miller, Karen Peterson, Niko Kaciroti

HEAD START EXPOSURE AND CHANGES IN CHILDREN’S BODY MASS INDEX
Childhood obesity is more common among low-income and minority children. Head Start programs, which serve low-income preschoolers and their families, are required to adhere to specific performance standards that regulate programming related to health, nutrition, and physical activity. Yet, there has been no evaluation to date of the potential link between Head Start exposure and beneficial effects on obesity prevalence among low-income children, and there is no national database that contains anthropometric data of the children enrolled in Head Start. This study utilizes existing Head Start anthropometric data from children enrolled in Head Start programs throughout the state of Michigan over the past 5 years to evaluate changes in children’s growth patterns during the academic year (while enrolled in Head Start), compared to the summertime (when not enrolled). The study also examines associations of program-specific policies (e.g., interventions to enhance physical activity; nutritional quality of meals) and social context factors related to spatial location (e.g., opportunities for outside play in neighborhoods) with child growth patterns. This project will have broad public health implications in that it examines whether Head Start enrollment is an effective preventive or treatment approach to childhood obesity among low-income children. In addition, it will have an immediate impact by providing feedback to programs around the state of Michigan to inform local Head Start obesity-relevant programming by determining which types of programming have the most robust associations with changes in obesity prevalence.

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ABC PRESCHOOL STUDY
PI(s): Julie Lumeng
Collaborators: Alison Miller, Karen Peterson, Delia Vazquez, Niko Kaciroti

CORTISOL AND EATING BEHAVIOR IN LOW-INCOME CHILDREN
One way that stress is hypothesized to “get under the skin” and lead to adverse health outcomes in chronically stressed, impoverished populations is via changes in stress neurobiology, specifically the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA), or “stress” axis and patterns of cortisol secretion. Our team was awarded a Challenge Grant in 2009 to examine stress and eating behavior in relation to obesity in low-income 3- to 5-year-olds. This study assessed diurnal cortisol patterns and eating behaviors in 380 low-income preschool-aged children. Preliminary results suggest associations between aberrant diurnal salivary cortisol patterns, food-related tantrums, and overweight, beginning at age 36 months.

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STRESS REACTIVITY STUDY
PI(s): Julie Lumeng and Alison Miller
Collaborators: Kate Rosenblum, Delia Vazquez, Niko Kaciroti

STRESS REACTIVITY, CORTISOL, AND OBESITY IN LOW-INCOME CHILDREN
Under conditions of chronic stress, such as poverty, aberrations in both the normal diurnal pattern of cortisol secretion and cortisol reactivity to stress have been seen in adults, and have been related to obesity. Yet, little is known about the stress-response-obesity association in young children. This study examined how young, low-income children respond behaviorally and physiologically to challenging situations, and how their behavioral and biological responses to stress (salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase) relate to their weight status and body mass index. Results, based on 250 children, demonstrate associations of blunted physiological responses to stress among children with a higher body mass index.

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Using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) to explore developmental differences in prefrontal cortex activity of adolescents and adults with ADHD during simulated driving with peer passengers
PI: Anuj K. Pradhan, M.S., Ph.D.; Lisa Buckley, Ph.D.
Collaborators: C. Raymond Bingham, PhD; Christopher Monk, PhD; Bruno Giordani, PhD; Bruce G. Simons-Morton, PhD.
Funding: University of Michigan Center for Human Growth and Development (Rauner Pilot)

Crash statistics show that adolescent drivers are more likely to be involved in motor vehicle crashes than adults; with the presence of peer passengers being an additional risk factor for crashes. Experimental and observational studies show an association between ADHD drivers and risky driving outcomes. There are differences in brain activity between adults and teens with ADHD in the performance of various cognitive and decision making tasks, especially in regions associated with impulse control, response inhibition and risk taking. In order to study differences in brain activation in male adults and adolescents with ADHD peer passengers we are undertaking an innovative experimental approach. We are using functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) technology, a non-invasive optical brain imaging method that allows in vivo measurements of oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin in cortical tissue, to study regions in the prefrontal cortex of drivers performing an ecologically valid driving simulation task. Driving related risk-taking behaviors will simultaneously be measured. In addition, participants will undertake a well-validated computerized measure of risk taking (Balloon Analogue Risk Task) as an additional assessment of risk-taking behavior. We hypothesize that for ADHD adolescents the presence of a peer passenger while driving will show different activation in the selected brain regions associated with reward sensitivity, cognitive control, and response inhibition as compared to when driving alone, and that the activation will be different for ADHD adults compared to ADHD adolescents.