Childhood obesity is a critical and ongoing public health problem, with almost 25% of children overweight by age 4 years and 35% by adolescence. Once established, childhood obesity is difficult to treat and tracks into adulthood. The more years of a lifespan one is obese, the greater risk for obesity-associated comorbidities such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, asthma, hypertension, arthritis, and cancer. There is thus an urgent need to prevent and treat childhood obesity, but current prevention and treatment programs focused on diet and physical activity have limited efficacy. We posit that one reason for this is a lack of focus on the basic mechanisms of health behavior change, specifically self-regulation processes that may shape whether changes are adopted.
This research is a collaboration with Dr. Julie Lumeng, Dr. Ashley Gearhardt, Dr Emily Fredericks and Dr. Rich Gonzales and is funded through the NIH Common Fund/Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research/Science of Behavior Change Initiative (UH2HD087979).