Campus News

Penn State University educator to discuss childhood obesity

Leann Birch

Leann L. Birch, director of the center for childhood obesity at Penn State University, will discuss her research on the behavioral factors that influence how we eat on Jan. 16 from 12:20-1:10 p.m. in Room 104 of Conner Hall. Birch’s presentation was rescheduled from late October when inclement weather prevented her from traveling to Athens.

Birch, who is a distinguished professor of human development in the Penn State College of Health and Human Development, has conducted research focusing on food intake beginning with infants and continuing through adolescence for more than 30 years. Some of her ongoing projects have included exploring the relationships that exist between feeding, sleeping and growth in infants during the first year of life and their subsequent influence on children’s eating habits, their growth and weight. She also has looked at the benefits of providing young children larger servings of vegetables at the beginning of meals as a way of increasing their intake of nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods.

A third project is a 10-year longitudinal study exploring how young girls learn to control their eating habits with a focus on the emergence of weight concerns, dieting and problems of energy balance, including childhood obesity and disordered eating.

Birch’s presentation is sponsored by the College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ foods and nutrition department and the University of Georgia Obesity Initiative. It is the second in a series that will continue this spring.

“Dr. Birch’s presentation represents our ongoing efforts to identify experts in childhood obesity across the country who are conducting translational research,” said Lynn Bailey, head of the foods and nutrition department. “Based on her world-renowned reputation, we’re confident Dr. Birch’s insight will help us as we continue to search for ways that involve families, schools and other care-givers in reducing the risks of childhood obesity.”