San Diego State University has received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worth more than $6 million over the next four years to study childhood obesity in Imperial County. SDSU is one of four schools nationwide participating in the program.
According to the CDC, the project will focus on children aged two to twelve who participate in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, a provider of low-cost insurance coverage to more than 7 million children.
Researchers from SDSU’s Institute for Behavioral and Community Health will partner with the Imperial County Public Health Department and Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo Inc., interacting with and observing the community at doctor’s offices, in schools, food stores, restaurants, and parks. They hope to identify opportunities at various points in the community to improve the health and health education of children and their parents.
Children of minorities are particularly at risk, the CDC says. According to its website, “Rates of childhood obesity are high overall, but for minority and low-income communities in particular, they are even higher. Using innovative approaches to reach low-income and minority families to tackle childhood obesity prevents the onset of many diseases associated with childhood obesity, including type 2 diabetes, asthma, and heart disease.”
SDSU is noted for its experience in studying Latino health. Imperial County, with its large Hispanic population, has a childhood obesity rate of 39 percent, the state’s highest. Average youth obesity is at about 28 percent statewide.