Here are projects that the Health Behaviors Lab are currently working and have worked on. Each project focuses on eating, activity, or community or a combination of these different areas. They are powered by the collaborative efforts with multiple universities, departments, and students with diverse backgrounds.
The HEROs project is an interdisciplinary, multi-institutional project aimed at exploring how preschool programs and technology can work together to improve the health of children and their families. Over a 5-to-6 year time frame, this project will develop and evaluate a technology-based, interactive family intervention to assess the potential amplification of The Food Friends programs effects on young children’s eating and activity behaviors in both childcare and family settings.
The Colorado LEAP study is exploring the longitudinal impact of The Food Friends intervention on the eating habits, physical activity patterns and weight status of young children. This study was completed with families in rural communities throughout Colorado who were enrolled in Head Start centers and followed through 1st grade. Initial analysis of results reveal significant improvements in children’s consumption of a novel vegetable (jicama) at 2 year follow-up, when children had repeated exposure to that vegetable during The Food Friends preschool program. Analysis also found that the Mighty Moves preschool activity produces a lasting impact on young children’s Fundamental Movement Skills, specifically children receiving the program had higher ball skills in 1st grade than those children not exposed to the program.
Several pilot studies related to the home food and activity environment include developing a metric for evaluating home food quality; exploring the relationships between parent health and home food and activity environment; and developing an electronic version of our teams’ measurement tool of the home environment assessment tool, the Home IDEA (Inventory Describing Eating and Activity).
The HBL is involved in serval pilot studies. We are partnering with the Children’s Eating Laboratory at CU Anschutz Medical Campus to examine how children describe themselves as eaters (e.g. picky) and how that relates to observed tasting behaviors. Additionally, we are working with faculty in Health and Exercise Science to explore physical activity programming in cancer survivors in rural communities.
The Health Behaviors Lab is partnering with local Fort Collins and Boulder restaurants to explore timing, access and marketing of healthy foods to families in a restaurant setting. Additionally we are working with local restaurants on an initiative to improve healthy eating habits of children and engage parents and restaurateurs in understanding healthy kids’ meal choices.