The Center for Childhood Obesity Research

Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions, affecting children from infancy through adolescence. Recent reports reveal that 25 percent of children aged 2 to 5 years are already overweight and that overweight infants and toddlers are at increased risk for obesity and associated health problems in later life. The childhood obesity epidemic demands action, but action requires an evidence base that does not currently exist.

The Center for Childhood Obesity Research aims to conduct research that will build this evidence base for the development of successful childhood obesity prevention programs. We promote interdisciplinary research focused on preventing obesity in children, beginning in the first years of life. Successful childhood obesity prevention will require action at multiple levels; interventions must provide support to individuals, families, schools, health care providers, and communities to foster healthier eating and activity patterns to reduce obesity risk and promote healthy growth and development.

Healthy Eating, Activity, and Sleep Needed to Curb Childhood Obesity, Report Says

According to a new report from the National Institute of Medicine, limiting television and other media use, encouraging infants and young children in preschool and child care to spend more time in physically active play, and requiring child care providers to promote healthy sleeping practices are some of the actions needed to curb high rates of obesity among America's youngest children. Leann Birch, Distinguished Professor of Human Development and director of the Center for Childhood Obesity Research at Penn State, chaired the NIH committee who produced the report. Read more about the report and the recommendations to curb obesity among young children.

Grant award establishes obesity prevention training program

A $4.5 million, five-year grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture establishes the Childhood Obesity Prevention Graduate Training Program (COPT). This grant will provide support for nine graduate students, matched by two graduate fellowships from the University and will have on average 11 students each year split between nutritional sciences and human development and family studies. Read more details about the COPT grant.