Childhood obesity prevalence has tripled over the past 3 decades, and more than one third of Canadian youth currently are overweight or obese. A multitude of risk factors across individual, familial, and socio-environmental levels likely interact and operate in complex ways to determine risk of obesity. Preventing obesity in children is therefore an urgent public health goal and actions targeting decreases in the prevalence of childhood obesity should include innovative environmental approaches.
This research program aims to better understand how the built and social environments impact pediatric obesity, and how to apply these findings to clinical and public health settings. To do so, this research program builds on existing infrastructures, for which I play an important role as the lead researcher on neighborhood-related methods and research questions. These infrastructures include an ongoing clinical study of youth at risk of cardiovascular disease and an ongoing cohort study of children of obese parent(s).
Furthermore, my program incorporates my extended network of top-notch collaborators that include knowledge user experts and leading authority researchers from a vast array of disciplines. Several thematically linked projects will test novel and emerging association between neighbourhood and obesity using sophisticated statistical approaches and rigorous analyses. These findings will be considered for testing in a clinical setting, and various knowledge translation activities are planned to disseminate these findings.
Moreover, population-level impact of these findings will be explored through a Team Grant that I will be leading, and involving a network of experts from across several disciplines. This groundbreaking project aims to use an actual urban setting that has been targeted for transformation to a healthy neighborhood.