UNR med school seeks volunteers for study of overweight mothers, children

The University of Nevada School of Medicine is seeking volunteers for a study investigating the connection between overweight mothers and the possibility that their young children will become overweight later in life.

In a $500,000 study, funded by the national Institutes of Health School of Medicine, researchers hope to learn the effectiveness of home-based and classroom-based intervention studies on health.

The three-year program - Health Opportunities for PreSchool Children to Optimize Their Cardiovascular Health - needs 50 volunteer overweight mothers with 3- to 4-year-old children to participate in the study.

"Parents are viewed as role models," said Suzanne Perumean, statistics and outcomes coordinator for the study. "When the mother is overweight, her eating habits can influence her child and possibly lead to the child becoming overweight."

"The study will show whether a family-based intervention, that enhances interactions about food and activity between moms and their preschool children, is effective," said Judith Ashley, professor of internal medicine and project coordinator for the study. "The goal is for the moms to reach and maintain their targeted weight; the goal for the preschool children is to maintain a healthy weight."

The 12-month study will randomly assign volunteer pairs into two groups: an intervention group, involving mothers and children in a number of class sessions at the university, where mothers will learn healthy eating patterns and increases in physical activity; and a control group consisting primarily of material mailed to the mother at home for her to follow.

"We've taken this program and made it family-based," said Sachiko St. Jeor, professor of family and community medicine and the study's principal investigator. "The program, as it is received, would be worth $3,000 if done privately, but there is no charge to a family for volunteering to participate."

Mothers wishing to participate in the HOPSCOTCH study should be about 150 to 265 pounds, depending on their height, with a child, age 3 to 5. Interested mothers should call 784-1595 for information. All calls are confidential,and there is no obligation to join the study.

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