Bentley receives funding for high-risk pediatric obesity intervention trial

September 03, 2012
Dr. Peggy Bentley

Dr. Peggy Bentley

Margaret (Peggy) Bentley, PhD, Carla Smith Chamblee Distinguished Professor of Global Nutrition at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, has received a 5-year award, valued at nearly $3 million, from The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), one of the National Institutes of Health. The award will fund Bentley’s study, “Mothers and Others: Family-based Obesity Prevention for Infants and Toddlers.”

Bentley’s research team will develop and implement tailored nutrition interventions for mothers and families of non-Hispanic black infants, a group at high risk for pediatric obesity.

“We are thrilled that the NICHD has committed five years of funding to our proposed intervention,” Bentley said. “We designed it based upon data from our previous observational study, the “Infant Care Project,” in which we worked with first-time, non-Hispanic black mothers and their infants and found that obesity and its risk factors emerge very early in the first two years of life.”

Bentley’s work at UNC’s public health school, as well as in Baltimore, Peru, Malawi and India, has provided her with a solid understanding of factors that influence how, when and what infants are fed. Her proposed study assumes that multiple care givers, not only the mother, influence feeding and optimal growth and development. Its interventions therefore take a family approach.

“Mothers and Others” will utilize innovative techniques, including media technologies, to reach mothers, their families and other care givers from pregnancy through infancy. The goal is to promote healthy behaviors that Bentley predicts will have a positive impact on the child.

“If successful in promoting healthy infant growth and enhancing positive health behaviors in care givers, the study will have great public health relevance – including in national, state and community health programs – for future obesity-prevention efforts aimed at children younger than two years old,” Bentley said.

The Center for Women’s Health Research at UNC assisted Bentley in submitting the research proposal and will provide administrative support to manage the funding.

Bentley also is associate dean for global health at UNC’s public health school.


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UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: Linda Kastleman, communications editor, (919) 966-8317 or linda_kastleman@unc.edu.