Childhood obesity is a public health concern in the United States. To reduce the prevalence of obesity among our nations’ youth, scientific research on the risk and protective factors associated with this disease is necessary. Translational research is also required to transform empirical insights into actionable interventions that can help prevent the development of childhood obesity. Obesity is a complex issue, thus researchers in this area need to be trained across disciplines to understand its multiple dimensions. The Childhood Obesity Prevention Training (COPT) program aims to prepare a new generation of scholars to address this challenging health issue.
COPT is an interdisciplinary pre-doctoral graduate training program supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Grant no. 2011-67001-30117 Program area A2121 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Childhood Obesity Prevention Challenge Area. COPT is an inter-departmental program that spans several units of Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development, including the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, the Department of Nutritional Sciences, the Center for Childhood Obesity Research, the Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center, and the Methodology Center.
COPT fellows receive training through course work and research experience in the areas of human development and family studies, nutritional sciences, prevention research, and statistical methodology. Fellows work closely with their research mentors, have the opportunity to pursue an internship outside of academia (e.g., education and outreach, medicine, public policy, or industry), are encouraged to present work at scientific conferences, and participate in COPT activities such as journal club and distinguished speaker seminars. These diverse training experiences help fellows build broad skill sets that will prepare them lead impactful careers in childhood obesity prevention.