Reduce Obesity and Diabetes
An AMDeC collaborative research project designed to study the genetic and environmental factors contributing to obesity and Type II diabetes in middle school children.
AMDeC’s Reduce Obesity and Diabetes (ROAD) Project which launched in 2006 is a five-year, $5 million study funded by The Starr Foundation to examine the effects of supervised exercise and health education on Type II diabetes and obesity risk factors among diverse, middle school participants.
As part of this novel partnership,the project has brought together public middle schools in New York and researchers at AMDeC-member biomedical research institutes and hospitals with active research programs in pediatric endocrinology that serve distinct ethnic populations.
ROAD investigators from five AMDeC member institutions have each teamed with a New York public middle school, and are working with six-, seventh- and eighth-grade students and their teachers and administrators. Over the five years, the study aims to recruit 1,000 participants, contribute significantly to the existing body of literature in these fields, and work to reduce disease risk.
The five AMDeC member institutions participating in the study include: Columbia University, Maimonides Medical Center, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, North Shore Long Island Jewish Health Care System’s Schneider Children’s Hospital, and Winthrop-University Hospital.
ROAD’s innovative approach includes both a molecular research component and a combined three month classroom and cardiovascular exercise-based intervention. ROAD investigators analyze blood samples from student participants before and after the intervention in order to determine both the effects of the intervention, and the role of ethnicity and genetic factors in diabetes and obesity risk. Ethnicities included in the participant population are African-American, Asian, Hispanic and Caucasian.
The ROAD intervention activities consist of health education classes seamlessly integrated into the regular health and science curriculums and designed by registered dieticians and PhD-level researchers, and concurrent cardiovascular exercise classes. The options for cardiovascular exercise are tailored to meet participant preferences, and in the past have included such forms as hip-hop dancing and cardio-kickboxing. The ROAD intervention is scalable to any school in the country due to its versatility and low overhead.
As of January 2010, the program has collected blood work and clinical data on over 700 ethnically diverse student participants. Based on the extensive molecular data and preliminary behavioral data analyses thus far, the intervention is working very effectively − student participants are getting leaner, stronger, and have greater self-esteem.