The Aetna Foundation today announced significant funding in support of five research studies designed to deepen understanding of the root causes of the nation's well-documented obesity epidemic and drive viable solutions to the core problems. More than $1 million in funding will be granted in support of separate studies at New York University School of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine (BUSM), the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University's CARE program.
Julie Palmer, Sc.D., from Boston University's School of Medicine (BUSM) Slone Epidemiology Center, will serve as Principal Investigator on the two-year $233,000 grant, which will focus on obesity in African- American women.
"While on its surface, the nation's obesity epidemic appears simple – we consume too many calories and don't get enough exercise – the issue is far more complex and the data available on what drives these unhealthy behaviors, particularly in urban, poor or minority communities, is scant," said Anne C. Beal, MD, MPH, president of the Aetna Foundation. "To help build the knowledge base and support development of effective policies that will foster healthier communities and a healthier nation, we are supporting these key research projects. These studies will consider issues such as the availability of broad food choices and the pricing of food, as well as the impact these factors have on individual food choices. The studies also will look at the role of our neighborhoods – and the impact of what is or isn't in the 'built environment' where we live, work and play-- on population health and weight loss."
Details on the BUSM grant are as follows:
$233,000 to Boston University's School of Medicine Slone Epidemiology Center for a two-year study of factors that influence obesity among African-American women, including both individual and neighborhood-level factors, and the identification of the most effective small changes individuals can make to decrease obesity rates among African-American women. Data from more than 20,000 participants in the ongoing Black Women's Health Study will be examined, including diet and exercise patterns, psychosocial stressors, and the neighborhood environment where the women live. Researchers hope to identify small, actionable changes women can take to reduce weight gain, and acquire evidence that will lead to policy and institutional level changes that can impact weight gain and obesity, such as neighborhood safety and walkability and grocery store accessibility.
About the Slone Epidemiology Center
The Slone Epidemiology Center is a public health research organization which focuses on studying the possible health effects of medications and a wide variety of other factors in adults and children. Our staff of approximately 100 includes specialists in epidemiology, adult and pediatric medicine, nursing, pharmacy, biostatistics, and computer science. Slone researchers use a variety of epidemiological tools, including case-control and follow-up studies, clinical trials, surveillance studies, risk management studies, and population-based surveys. For more information, visit http://www.bu.edu/slone/.
About the Aetna Foundation
The Aetna Foundation, Inc. is the independent charitable and philanthropic arm of Aetna Inc. Since 1980, Aetna and the Aetna Foundation have contributed $394 million in grants and sponsorships, including $15.6 million in 2010. As a national health foundation, we promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. This work is enhanced by the time and commitment of Aetna employees, who have volunteered more than 2.3 million hours since 2003. Our current giving is focused on addressing the rising rate of adult and childhood obesity in the U.S.; promoting racial and ethnic equity in health and health care; and advancing integrated health care. For more information, visit www.AetnaFoundation.org.