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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Ten-state study targets young adults’ nutrition, eating habits

KINGSTON, R.I. -- September 3, 2002 -- While most people know the importance of good eating habits to maintaining overall health, it’s increasingly difficult to convince young adults to cut back on pizza and French fries and increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables.
That’s why the University of Rhode Island is launching a nutrition education campaign targeted at 18- to 24-year-olds in conjunction with researchers in nine other states from Maine to Alabama. The study and intervention program will examine the barriers to healthy eating and test a strategy to overcome them.

"Young adults are at an age when they’re developing their own eating habits, and these patterns tend to persist throughout their adult lives," said Geoffrey Greene, URI professor of food science and nutrition. "It’s important that they develop lifetime habits of eating healthy foods.

"People of this age are also at a point when they’re getting ready to have families. We know that kids eat what their parents eat, not what their pare

nts tell them to eat, so parents need to have a healthy diet to ensure that their kids do, too."
Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the $2 million, four-year project is one of the first major research projects to involve a multi-state team of researchers and community-based educators. Its goal is to increase the fruit and vegetable intake among economically disadvantaged young adults. The Rhode Island component of the study, with additional funding from the Cooperative Research, Education and Extension Service, will focus on 200 young adults in Providence and Pawtucket.

Using the behavior change model developed by URI’s Cancer Prevention Research Center, the researchers will track how participants think about nutrition and whether they improve their eating habits over the course of the study, based on surveys conducted before, during and after an educational campaign. After the initial surveys, educators will provide newsletters, a magazine and educational phone calls to each participant, each personalized to the participant’s eating habits and beliefs about nutrition.

The educational materials for the entire 10-state study are being developed by Greene and the staff of URI’s Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program, led by Nutrition Educator Linda Sebelia. Her staff will also be the primary contacts with the participants during the yearlong study.

For Information: Geoffrey Greene 874-4028, Todd McLeish 874-7892

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