Having just completed a three-year journey as department chair, several active research projects are now completed and I am beginning the process of writing proposal to fund new projects. Current research projects are divided into those that we conduct at Rutgers (domestic) and those that we conduct with collaborators in other countries (international). The primary objective of our research is to understand how poor nutrition in childhood (poor enough to cause permanent growth retardation) influences energy metabolism and body composition. The secondary objective is to understand how structural changes in transitional countries (such as economic policies) influence diet and health of children.
Perhaps the most important domestic project underway is the development of our new Center for Childhood Nutrition Education and Research that will be housed in the Rutgers Institute for Food Nutrition and Health. This center will be a nexus for developing research protocols and curricula to improve our understanding of how nutrition in childhood promotes lifelong health and how to best educate children in healthful eating. Children from across the state of New Jersey will be invited to visit the center and engage with innovative techniques to teach nutrition across all ages. At the same time, it is envisioned that these same children will become part of various research protocols to develop a large database with measures of body composition, eating habits, energetics, and even cognition for longitudinal studies of childhood nutrition and health.
International projects include studies of early nutrition and body composition in children who participated in a trial of maternal nutrition education in Porto Alegre, Brazil as well as a new study on changes in body composition following recovery from malnutrition in Sao Paulo, Brazil. We are also consulting for an ongoing study of energy metabolism in migrant children from North Korea who have relocated to South Korea. The principal investigator of this project is Dr. Soo-Kyung Lee at Inha University. Measures of energy metabolism and body composition were conducted in children who were born in North Korea, but later migrated to South Korea. Manuscripts are currently being prepared for publication.