22
Nov 17

The Obesity Society Conference 2017

We had a great representation of COPT fellows at The Obesity Society (TOS) annual conference in Oxon Hill, Maryland from Oct 30 – Nov 2, 2017. Check out our recaps of each presentation! 

COPT fellows past and present with the directors Front (left to right): Faris Zuraikat, Nicole Fearbach, Allison Hepworth Middle: Elizabeth Adams, Barbara Rolls, Kathleen Keller, Katherine Balantekin, Sally Eagleton, Alissa Smethers Back: Samantha Kling, Travis Masterson, Jennifer Savage Williams, Alyssa Spaw

Elizabeth Adams

What was the title of your poster/talk?

  • “Applying Multiphase Optimization Strategy to Manage Children’s Intake of Candy: A Feasibility Study” (Oral presentation)
  • “Patterns of Gestational Weight Gain and Large-for-Gestational Age Across Consecutive Pregnancies” (Poster presentation)

What were the main points of your presentation?

  • We demonstrated the feasibility of a family-based intervention to provide parents with alternatives to restrictive feeding practices (e.g. shared decision making, establishing expectations and routines) for managing children’s intake of candy. This study used a novel design called Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST), which allowed us to test the effectiveness of each individual intervention component, rather than just the intervention as a whole.
  • We quantified gestational weight gain (GWG) longitudinally across women’s 1st and 2nd pregnancies to find that women who exceeded the Institute of Medicine GWG guidelines in their 1st pregnancy had increased odds of exceeding guidelines in their 2nd pregnancy, independent of postpartum weight retention and inter-pregnancy interval (i.e. duration between women’s 1st and 2nd pregnancies). Further, exceeding GWG guidelines increased the odds of infants born large-for-gestational age in women’s first but not second-born infants, independent of pre-pregnancy body mass index.

What was something you learned while at TOS?

  • One of the most valuable sessions I attended was the Early Career Pre-Conference Networking event. During the break-out sessions, I learned more about Career Development (K) Awards from a NIH program officer, which was really beneficial to planning my future career goals. I also thought the keynote speaker of this event had great insight. Dr. Elizabeth Mayer-Davis from UNC Chapel Hill advised that during the day-to-day challenges of academia, we always keep the big picture in mind that we are make a difference in helping people to improve their health.

Elizabeth Adams sharing her work during one of the poster sessions

Travis Masterson

What was the title of your poster/talk?

  • “Brain reactivity to visual food stimuli after food commercial exposure in children” 
What were the main points of your presentation?
  •  We shared results from our study showing that exposure to food commercials can interfere with brain response to food cues in the environment. In particular, regions associated with visual processing, control, and decision making were affected. Interference in these regions may help explain the intake promoting effect of food commercials in children.  
What was something you learned while at TOS?
  • One of the symposiums this year was focused around the food environment, public policy, and food marketing. During this symposium we were able to hear from both research scientists and marketing consultants. They spoke about the need to involve the general public in conversations around food marketing and try to garner public support for policy change. They also made the point that health promotion campaigns to inform and motivate the public about obesity prevention and treatment can be more effective if they are focused around positive emotions and community involvement. 

Allison Hepworth

What was the title of your poster/talk?

  • I presented two posters at Obesity Week 2017:
    • “A new conceptual model of information seeking and use can inform obesity prevention and treatment:
    • “Food marketing through social media influencers: Sponsorship on food blogs focused on child feeding”
What were the main points of your presentation?
  •  In my first poster, I presented a new conceptual model that aims to explain the entire information seeking and use process. The Information Seeking and Use (ISU) model combines information theories with theories of behavior change that can be broadly applied across health behaviors, including those related to obesity. This model includes a series of testable predictions about how person-level and information-level factors interact to predict whether someone is likely to access an information source at all, and whether someone will go on to apply the information they receive after they have obtained it. This model, if validated, has important implications for the development and revision of intervention delivery techniques. This poster abstract received a top poster award from the Health Services Research section.
  • In my second poster, I presented results from my Master’s thesis research on food blogs written by mothers of preschool-aged children (N = 13 blogs; 325 posts). I examined the frequency of brand sponsorship on blogs and the types of brands that were represented. I found that 35% of sampled blog posts  (n = 115) were sponsored in some way, either the entire post creation was sponsored or a brand funded a give away or product review. Sponsorship of any kind varied across the 13 blogs and ranged from 0% to 20% (M = 7.7%; SD = 7.2). There were 85 unique sponsors: 64% food brands (n = 54), 36% non-food brands (n = 31). Brands that market healthier (e.g., The Blueberry Council) and
less healthy (e.g., Blue Bunny Ice Cream) foods were present. Brands that market non-food items were also present (e.g., cooking tools, lunch boxes, vacation destinations). I hope to conduct future work that examines how food marketing through social media influencers impacts the child feeding behaviors of blog readers.

What was something you learned while at TOS?

  •  One poster that really caught my eye discussed how rural residents view their place-based eating and physical activity opportunities. Dr. Michelle White and colleagues (UNC – Chapel Hill) found that rural residents frame their existing environmental conditions through a nostalgic lens, primarily one of loss. The authors suggest this nostalgic lens could prevent residents from engaging with new services that are available in their communities that could actually help them get back some of the things they are nostalgic for (e.g., farm fresh produce). I think this is fascinating research because of its implications for how to engage rural residents in obesity prevention and treatment. I would be interested in further exploring how nostalgia might impact information seeking and use based on the factors I include in the ISU model.

Allison Hepworth sharing her research at one of the poster sessions

Sally Eagleton

What was the title of your poster/talk?
  •  “Bottle feeding but not milk type impacts infant weight gain and weight status across the first year”

What were the main points of your presentation?

  • We conducted a secondary data analysis of mother-infant dyads who participated in the INSIGHT study, a randomized controlled trial designed to prevent early childhood obesity. The purpose of our analysis was to examine whether how infants are fed (i.e. at the breast or by bottle) and/or what infants are fed (i.e. breastmilk or formula) is associated with infant weight weight outcomes across the first year. Controlling for the effect of study group, we found that a higher percentage of daily milk feedings from a bottle was associated with more rapid infant weight gain from 0-6 months and higher weight-for-length z-scores at 1 year. The percentage of daily milk feedings as breastmilk was not associated with infant weight outcomes. Our results suggest that regardless of milk type (breastmilk of formula), bottle feeding may be a unique risk factor for early childhood obesity.

Alissa Smethers

What was the title of your poster/talk?

  • “Can we identify children who are most responsive to large portions?”

What were the main points of your presentation?

  • We had previously shows that serving larger portions of food and milk over 5 days to preschool children led to sustained increases in food and energy intake. Using analysis of covariance, we could that increased intake from larger portions related to children’s body size and their responsiveness to food and satiety cues.  Caregivers should recognize that children with greater body size for their age or greater responsiveness to food may be more likely to overeat when larger portions are served. In contract, children with greater responsiveness to satiety cues may be less likely to overeat form large portions.

What was something you learned while at TOS?

  • One of my favorite sessions during Obesity Week was the TOS Opening Session- Awards & Early Career Grant Challenge Competition. I found the five-minute grant talks to be intriguing, and I found the talks displayed how hard it can be to present your proposed research in a limited time frame. I also thought the talk by Diana Thomas, who was the winner of the 2017 George A. Bray Founders Award, to be very engaging. She seems to be doing cutting edge modeling looking at energy balance and weight at West Point. This was a great session to start off Obesity Week 2017.

COPT and fellow Penn Staters at the opening session at ObesityWeek 2017

Faris Zuraikat

What was the title of your poster/talk?

  • “Strategies used by women of differing weight status to moderate energy intake from large portions”

What were the main points of your presentation?

  •  Following the year-long Portion-Control Strategies Trial, we served trial participants and untrained controls of differing weight status a meal that was varied in portion size over 4 weeks. All subjects consumed a similar weight of food across portions, regardless of training or weight status. Trial participants, however, moderated their energy intake compared to untrained controls, whose energy intake did not differ by weight status. This was achieved not by limiting the amount of food eaten, but by consuming a meal lower in energy density (ED). Trial participants consumed a greater proportion of lower-ED foods than controls. For all groups, ratings of the healthfulness of the foods were correlated with the ED of the foods, but only in trained participants were higher ratings of the influence of healthfulness on food choice related to lower energy intake at meals.

What was something you learned while at TOS?

  • I thoroughly enjoyed Rena Wing’s symposium on maintenance of weight loss trials. She provided some really interesting data and provocative insights on the role of weight regain. In particular, she demonstrated that weight loss is beneficial regardless of whether or not individuals keep off all of the weight they lost.

Alyssa Spaw

What was the title of your poster/talk?

  • “What strategies help dieters to manage problem foods and facilitate weight loss?”

What were the main points of your presentation?

  • During a year long weight loss trial focused on portion control, we wanted to examine the strategies female dieters used to deal with foods they consider “problem foods” (those they cannot resist and find it hard to stop eating once they have started). After analyzing 8 proposed strategies, the only strategy related to weight loss from baseline to the end of the trial was “I limit the portion of problem foods that I eat”, though avoidance strategies were also frequently used. We advise dieters to adopt and maintain strategies to manage portions of problem foods, rather than avoid these foods.

What was something you learned while at TOS?

  • One compelling talk I attended was given by Diana Thomas, a researcher at the United State Military Academy who won the George A. Bray award. She presented on their up and coming research using machine learning to predict injury and also serve as predictors for long term weight gain. I’m excited to see where this goes in the future.

Award winning Halloween costume “Gutsy Girl”


28
Aug 17

SSIB Meeting 2017

Several COPT fellows attended SSIB 2017, the 25th Annual Meeting of the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior in Montreal, Quebec from July 18-22, 2017. Each student gave us a recap and reflection on her experience.

Travis and Faris at SSIB 2017

Travis Masterson

What was the title of your poster/talk?

  • Overweight children consume more high-energy dense foods at a meal than healthy weight children, regardless of pre-meal priming with food advertisements.

What were the main points of your presentation?

  • Reducing high-energy dense options in a meal may reduce excess calorie intake, particularly in children with overweight or obesity. Intake promoting effects of food advertisements may not extend into meal time.

What was something you learned while at SSIB?

  • I learned that “null” findings can be very interesting and important to share. There can be a lot of support from colleagues and interesting questions posed when sharing your results.

 

Faris Zuraikat

What was the title of your poster/talk?

  • Satiety responsiveness, but not meal cost, influenced the portion size effect in a restaurant-style setting

What were the main points of your presentation?

  • In this study, we wanted to determine whether meal cost or subject characteristics influenced the portion size effect on intake. To do this, we served a meal to subjects once a week for 4 weeks. Over the 4 weeks, the portion size of the main dish and the cost of the meal were varied. At a final visit subjects filled out questionnaires assessing consumerism and eating behaviors. Results showed that larger portions led to increased intake, but that cost had no affect on this relationship. Satiety responsiveness, however, influenced the response to portion size. The effect of portion size on intake was attenuated in subjects scoring higher in satiety responsiveness.

What was something you learned while at SSIB?

  • Based on Kevin Hall’s research, it appears that, in terms of energy expenditure, a calorie is a calorie; macronutrient composition has little influence on metabolic rate.

Current and past PSU COPT fellows, Faris, Nicole, Shana, and Travis


26
Aug 17

Day trip to Campbell’s Headquarters!

Several COPT fellows visited Campbell’s headquarters in Camden, NJ, in May 2017. This was an opportunity to learn more about research positions and operations in food industry.  

Image result for campbell's soup headquarters

Upon arrival, Dr. Alex Blatt-Hast, a PSU Nutrition alumni, met with COPT fellows to discuss her work at Campbell’s. Dr. Blatt-Hast described the research process for industry as often more collaborative, in that structured teams are formed within the company to work together on an assigned project. Their ultimate goal is to 1) promote food options for every type of consumer (i.e. those who are health conscious, those wanting convenience, those wanting a hearty, filling meal), 2) make accurate nutritional claims, and 3) advance Campbell’s as a company.

Image may contain: 9 people, people smiling, people standing

COPT fellows then toured the on-site Pilot Plant, which comprised facilities used to test new and developing products. This behind-the-scenes-look gave us a unique prospective into the process of food production. The facilities at the headquarters location are primarily used for small scale testing, before mass production in other larger, national locations.

Following the tour, we had a group lunch at the Campbell’s employee cafeteria with other employees working in the Nutrition Expert division. These individuals included Joshua Anthony – Vice President of Global Nutrition, Tara Acharya – Director of Global Nutrition, and their team. This group lunch provided a casual environment to ask question and learn about all the nutrition-related work being done.

To finish off our day trip, we stopped in the gift shop!

Many thanks to Campbell’s for hosting us. We had a great time learning from you!


19
Apr 17

PSU 2017 Graduate Exhibition: Faris Zuraikat

Several COPT fellows participated in the Penn State Graduate Exhibition, held on March 26th, 2017. This is an opportunity for Penn State graduate students to showcase their research and practice giving a 5-minute judged summary of their findings. Each student gave us a recap on their experience. We will be featuring one student per post as part of this series.

Faris Zuraikat

Congratulations to Faris for winning 1st place in the Health and Life Sciences Category. Way to go, Faris!!! 

Q: What was the title of your presentation?

An offer you can’t refuse: serving larger portions leads to increased intake despite a year of portion-control training

Q: What were the main points of your presentation?

In a previous RCT, we trained women with overweight and obesity in different portion-control strategies to aid weight loss. Following the trial, we tested whether such training attenuated the portion size effect on intake. On 4 occasions, we served trained subjects and controls a lunch of foods across a range of energy density; across meals all foods were varied in portion size. We found that, despite extended portion-control training, serving larger portions increased meal intake in trial participants; this effect did not differ between the groups. However, across meals, trained participants moderated energy intake by consuming a lower meal ED than controls. We concluded that, while strategies to counter the portion size effect should be encouraged, reducing meal ED is an effective strategy to moderate energy intake in the presence of large portions.

19
Apr 17

PSU 2017 Graduate Exhibition Series: Elizabeth Adams

Several COPT fellows participated in the Penn State Graduate Exhibition, held on March 26th, 2017. This is an opportunity for Penn State graduate students to showcase their research and practice giving a 5-minute judged summary of their findings. Each student gave us a recap on their experience. We will be featuring one student per post as part of this series.

Elizabeth Adams

Q: What was the title of your presentation?

INSIGHT Responsive Parenting Intervention Reduces Infant Screen Time

Q: What were the main points of your presentation?

In this poster, we describe the effects of the INSIGHT responsive parenting intervention on infant screen time exposure. This intervention was designed for the primary purpose of childhood obesity prevention. Infants in our responsive parenting intervention group had less screen time exposure, from infancy through early childhood, compared to infants in the control group. Further, the INSIGHT intervention successfully reduced the frequency in which the television was on during infant meals and the frequency at which the television was on in the home.

Q: What was your experience like?

The grad exhibition is such a great experience. I view this event as an opportunity to get experience communicating our research findings to individuals not directly working in our research area. It also gives graduate students a chance to learn about all the cool research going on across campus!


19
Apr 17

PSU 2017 Graduate Exhibition Series: Sally Eagleton

Several COPT fellows participated in the Penn State Graduate Exhibition, held on March 26th, 2017. This is an opportunity for Penn State graduate students to showcase their research and practice giving a 5-minute judged summary of their findings. Each student gave us a recap on their experience. We will be featuring one student per post as part of this series.

Sally Eagleton

Q: What was the title of your presentation?

Maternal return to work, rapid infant weight gain, and 1 year weight outcomes: Findings from the INSIGHT study

Q: What were the main points of your presentation?

My poster described a secondary data analysis in which we examined the effect of the timing of mothers’ return to work on infant weight outcomes. We found that infants of mothers who returned to work by 12 weeks (compared to after 12 weeks) experienced greater weight gain from 0-6 months and had a higher weight-for-length percentile at one year.

Q: What was your experience like?

The grad exhibition was a great experience! I particularly enjoyed learning about student research in other departments. I also appreciated getting to practice describing my research to judges from a variety of disciplines.


19
Apr 17

PSU 2017 Graduate Exhibition series: Alissa Smethers

Several COPT fellows participated in the Penn State Graduate Exhibition, held on March 26th, 2017. This is an opportunity for Penn State graduate students to showcase their research and practice giving a 5-minute judged summary of their findings. Each student gave us a recap on their experience. We will be featuring one student per post as part of this series.

Alissa Smethers

Q: What was the title of your presentation?

The portion size effect persists over 5 days in preschool children

Q: What were the main points of your presentation?

In a crossover design, we varied the portion size of foods and beverages served to preschool children at all meals for 5 consecutive days during 2 periods. In one period, baseline amounts of all items were served, and in the other, the portions of all items were increased by 50%; intake of all items was weighed. Children responded to larger portions by consuming more food by weight (16%) and energy (18%). The effect of portion size on preschool children’s intake persisted over 5 days, a period thought to be long enough for regulatory systems to respond to excess energy intake.

Q: What was your experience like?

I liked the Graduate Exhibition because it allowed us to share our research with others here at Penn State and it allowed us to see what other graduate students are working on.


21
Feb 17

COPT students discuss their research on WPSU

A video about select projects supported by the COPT program was recently featured on WPSU SciTech. This video was produced by WPSU. Take a few minutes to learn about some of our exciting research.

Watch Video.


24
Jan 17

Obesity Week Series 2016: Faris Zuraikat

Several COPT fellows attended Obesity Week 2016, the Annual Meeting of the Obesity Society, in New Orleans, Louisiana from October 31 – November 4, 2016. Each student gave us a recap and reflection on their experience. We will be featuring one student per post as part of this series.

Faris, center, with fellow lab mates and fellow COPT trainees Brittany and Alissa at Obesity Week.

Faris Zuraikat

Q: What was the title of your poster/talk?

  • The title of my poster was “An offer you can’t refuse: serving larger portions leads to increased intake despite a year of portion-control training.”

Q: What were the main points of your presentation about?

  • On four occasions, we served a lunch consisting of 7 foods varying in ED to 39 women who had participated in the Portion-Control Strategies Trial and to 63 controls. We hypothesized that the effect of increasing portion size on meal intake would be attenuated in women who had received a year of portion-control training. Across all meals, all foods were varied in portion size. Despite receiving a year of training in portion-control strategies, trial participants responded to increases in portion size by consuming more food and energy. However, trained participants did moderate their energy intake compared to controls by eating a lower-ED meal. Strategies to moderate intake in the presence of large portions are needed, and choosing lower-energy-dense foods should be a focal point of such approaches.

Q:What was something you learned while at Obesity Week?

  • I learned a lot at obesity week! Marion (Hetherington) gave a really great seminar on mastication and how oral exposure to foods, flavors, etc can influence SSS and food intake. I think one of the most interesting things that I learned was that SSS can occur without actually ingesting the food (Hetherington talk – similar decreases in pleasantness following eating and MSF). However, MSF does not lead to decreased food intake at a subsequent meal, unfortunately.
  • *Networking tip: Hang around Barbara!

23
Jan 17

Obesity Week Series 2016: Elizabeth Adams

Several COPT fellows attended Obesity Week 2016, the Annual Meeting of the Obesity Society, in New Orleans, Louisiana from October 31 – November 4, 2016. Each student gave us a recap and reflection on their experience. We will be featuring one student per post as part of this series.

Elizabeth Adams

Q: What was the title of your poster/talk?

  • INSIGHT responsive parenting intervention reduces infant screen time

Q:What were the main points of your presentation about? 

  • The Intervention Nurses Start Infants Growing on Healthy Trajectories (INSIGHT) responsive parenting intervention sought to reduce infant screen time exposure, as one component of this childhood obesity prevention intervention. Research nurses delivered intervention content (e.g., no screen time before age 2 years, television off during meals) to mothers when infants were ages 3, 16, 28, and 40 weeks and 1 and 2 years. We found that at infant age 44 weeks, more mothers in the intervention group, compared to those in the control group, reported their infants had no hours of screen time per day, the television was on fewer hours per day, and the television was never on while their infant was eating a meal. At 1 year of age, more infants in the intervention group compared to those in the control group, watched no hours of television on weekdays or weekends. Overall, INSIGHT reduced infant screen time and parenting behaviors associated with media exposure, during the first year of life.

Q:What was something you learned while at Obesity Week?

  • I thought it was really interesting to talk with researchers at Pennington Biomedical Institute about their ongoing initiative to develop objective methods for measuring physical activity in infants. These researchers are using actigraphs, sewn into infant cloth diapers, to measure activity. They plan to then develop algorithms, appropriate for this age group, to score and interpret the data. I look forward to seeing how these new methods can help us to better understand how physical activity in infancy relates to motor development and weight outcomes.

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