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Health Systems Institute
Georgia Institute of Technology
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Seed Grant Profile


2008-2009 Program

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Technologies for Preventative Health Interventions for Georgia's Children

This is a collaborative research project made up of researchers from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), the Georgia Tech Research Institute (GTRI) and the School of Interactive Computing. The team’s goal is to investigate technologies that can help address challenges in wellness behaviors in young children (elementary school age) and their families, in particular nutrition and eating behaviors. Childhood obesity presents a major threat to the health of Georgia’s citizens. Childhood obesity presents both immediate and long-term health consequences: depression and poor self-esteem, breathing difficulties, gallstones, bone and joint problems, high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The research team brings collective expertise and interests from three important areas. Children’s researchers, led by Seema Csukas, bring a deep understanding of the challenges and implications of poor nutritional behavior by young children. Healthy (or unhealthy) habits start early in life and are influenced by many factors, most importantly: the family’s habits. What a child eats largely depends on what the parents purchase and serve to the family. Computing researchers, led by Beth Mynatt, bring experience in the use of novel technologies for diabetes and wellness for older adults, as well as an interest in creating technologies to prevent diabetes and related conditions such as obesity. Part of this proposal includes an assessment of an automated nutrition advisor that can deliver personalized and targeted (to the dining or food purchase location) advice on healthy dining options. The GTRI team, led by Valerie Sitterle, brings a wealth of experience in the behavior of children in social media based on their Cyber Safety research program. The goal for this team is to integrate compelling social media approaches with effectively targeted and personalized nutrition and wellness information to influence the behavior of elementary school children and their families. HSI and Children’s are jointly funding Phase 1 of this two-phased study. Phase I is scheduled for completion by June 30th 2009.

Investigators: Seema Csukas (Children's Healthcare of Atlanta), Beth Mynatt (GT, Interactive Computing), Valerie Sitterle (Georgia Tech Research Institute)

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