Joseph R. Sharkey, Ph.D., M.P.H., RD, professor at the Texas A&M Health Science Center (TAMHSC) School of Rural Public Health and founding director of the Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, was recently awarded $140,000 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Prevention Research Center program for a two-year Texas Border Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network project (TxBNOPRE).
The TxBNOPRE will work with the larger Nutrition and Obesity Policy Research and Evaluation Network (NOPREN) to respond to issues related to the identification of policies that affect improved access and availability of health foods and beverages.
“Although obesity has risen at alarming rates among all segments of the population, prevalence is highest among Mexican-American children and continues to increase among the poor and near-poor,” Dr. Sharkey said. “Mexican-origin children and families in the colonias of the Lower Rio Grande Valley reside in areas that demonstrate high rates of childhood and adult obesity, poverty, food insecurity and geographic challenges associated with residence.”
The special initiative project is awarded competitively under the Prevention Research Center (PRC) funding program through Cooperative Agreement 5U48DP00192. Dr. Sharkey will act as principal investigator with Wesley R. Dean, Ph.D., as co-investigator. Additional collaborators include the larger NOPREN, South Texas community partners and South Texas colonias in an effort to examine aspects of policy change that seek to influence children’s access to healthy foods and beverages.