Dietary Patterns Study

Dietary Patterns Study Contact Person:

Uma Rao

Other PIs/Investigators/PhD students:

Tomas Zurita
Kelly F. M. Kazmierski
Larissa Wong
Megan Faulkner
Sabrina Kuo
Heather Huszti

Children's Hospital Orange County (CHOC) Funding Agency:


Project Summary:

Obesity is a major problem in our society resulting in a variety of physical and mental health problems. Adolescent development is associated with significant behavioral and biological changes that can lead to persistent obesity into adult life. In particular, African-American (AA) and Hispanic/Latina (HL) females have high rates of obesity compared to their Non-Hispanic White (NHW) counterparts. Research has indicated that this is not merely due to differences in socioeconomic status. AA and HL experience significant chronic (ongoing) stressors which can alter eating behavior activity levels, fat distribution and metabolic hormones, resulting in obesity and associated health problems.

In the current research study, we are examining social and biological stress in 13-17 year-old AA, HL, and NHW females (normal weight, overweight and obese). Additionally, we are studying eating patterns and activity levels in the home environment and in a controlled laboratory setting as well as body composition (muscle mass and fat distribution) and metabolic hormones. To our knowledge, this is the first study to carefully examine the role of stress in determining racial differences in obesity rates. If our results confirm the influential role of stress, we aim to develop interventions and advocate for public policy changes to address social and biological stress in addition to nutrition and exercise (currently the primary focus in clinical and public policy programs).