FRC News

Family Resiliency Center affiliates receive National Institutes of Health research grant

Tyler Wolpert
9/14/2016  10:00 am

Unhealthy eating is a major contributor to obesity and other long-term health problems. Increasingly, families in Jamaica are adopting a part-American identity that is linked to watching more U.S. cable television and eating more unhealthy food. Compelling evidence on media consumption in the U.S. and internationally shows that time spent watching television is a major contributor to unhealthy eating habits.

Because of the negative impact of media and advertising on eating habits, successful media literacy programs have been designed to teach U.S. youth and families about the effects of increased screen time and food advertising on unhealthy eating, but there are currently no media literacy interventions in the Caribbean to help educate families about the health risks associated with more U.S. cable television viewing.

Working in collaboration with Professor Julie Meeks at the University of the West Indies Open Campus in Jamaica, Illinois researchers Drs. Gail Ferguson (Principal Investigator), an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, and Michelle Nelson (Co-Investigator), an Associate Professor in the Department of Advertising, were recently awarded funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to help fill this void. The $250,000 research grant will support Promoting Healthy Eating Habits in Jamaican Schools through Food-Focused U.S. Media Literacy, a transdiciplinary project which will combat the negative impact of increased U.S. media consumption on eating habits in Jamaica. Additionally, this intervention project may also benefit future Jamaican migrants to the U.S.

The long-term goal of their collaboration is to implement effective family health prevention programs in developing regions impacted by cultural globalization. By combatting U.S. media effects as a risk factor for unhealthy eating in Jamaica, this project has the potential to make a substantial positive contribution to improving diet, decreasing risk for chronic disease, and ultimately strengthening families.