June 4, 2012
The North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness (NCCHW) is supporting four grants for faculty and undergraduate research. Each project emphasizes a primary prevention approach and project goals are clearly tied to the NCCHW’s focus areas of healthy aging, worksite wellness, and healthy weight for children, youth and young adults.
"The Center is excited to have the opportunity to support both the mission of our university and progress in our focus areas by awarding funding to four teams of faculty and student researchers," said Dr. Rebecca H. Reeve, the director of research programs for the N.C. Center for Health and Wellness. Through these grants, the NCCHW will provide funding to 15 faculty members and involve 16 student researchers from UNC Asheville.
The project titled, “Proprioception, Balance, and Fall Risk in Older Adults” has been awarded one of the four and will be headed by Dr. Jason Wingert of the Health and Wellness Department and Dr. Patrick Foo of the Department of Psychology. They have partnered with The Council on Aging of Buncombe County and Project E.M.M.A. to help conduct their research and Dr. Christopher Nicolay from the Department of Biology and Dr. Michael Neelon from the Department of Psychology will be doing consulting work. The project will investigate underlying mechanisms of falling and share evidence-based fall prevention strategies and workshops with community partners engaged in senior wellness. The 2012 grant is the continuation of a two-year project which developed methodology, collected data for 55 participants, worked with numerous community groups and trained undergraduate researchers with the goal of promoting healthy aging. Over the past two years, the team has identified significant declines in proprioception ability on both joint position sense and kinesthesia of the hip in the older compared to younger adults.
The second funded grant will evaluate the impact of experiential food education on knowledge and attitudes about healthy eating nutrition and on changes in individual eating behavior. The project is titled, “The Effect of Experiential Food Education Programs Involving Healthful Cooking on Knowledge and Attitudes about Healthy Eating and Eating Behavior in Teens, Young adults and Worksite Wellness Participants”and will be run by Dr. Amy Lanou and Dr. Keith Ray of the Health and Wellness Department. They will have community involvement from Kids at Work!, T.H.E. Center for Disordered Eating and UNC Asheville’s Workplace Wellness Program. The researchers hope to find an effective way for individuals to make a transition into a whole food plant-based diet, and maintain this lifestyle habitually to demonstrate health benefits.
The NCCHW has also awarded Dr. Russell Clayton, Dr. Brian Shaffer and Dr. Michael Stratton from the Department of Management and Accountancy as well as Dr. Leah Greden Mathews from the Department of Economics and Ellen Garrison from the Health and Wellness Department a grant researching, “Physical Activity as a Protective Buffer Against Work-Family Conflict: A Follow-Up Investigation Utilizing an Exercise Intervention.” The project will test for the impact of exercise on employees’ perception of work-family conflict. They hope to increase awareness of the importance of exercise in workplace wellness programs and disseminate the results of the project to the Asheville community in addition to the broader academic community. The group will be offering volunteer consulting to local business leaders on the benefits of workplace wellness. Also, participants in the program will be offered post-study consulting from a certified personal trainer and health and wellness coach.
Additionally, a grant award has been given to Dr. Ameena Batada from the Health and Wellness Department, Ellen Bailey from the Department of Foreign Languages, and Dr. Evelyn Chiang and Dr. Melissa Himelein from the Department of Psychology. The group will be researching, “Children’s Participation in Organized Physical Activity: Racial/Ethnic and Gender Differences.” They have partnered with the Asheville Buncombe Youth Soccer Association (ABYSA) and the YWCA of Asheville to drive organizational programs and policies. Their objectives are to examine three inter-related factors influencing children’s and parent’s decisions to enroll children in organized physical activity. The three factors being researched are motivation to exercise, intervention type and components and perceptions of social norms around physical activity. The group plans to investigate how these factors relate to one another and how they vary by gender and ethnicity across ethnic and other groups.
Funds were provided to the NCCHW from the Blue Cross Blue Shield Foundation of North Carolina and the NCCHW will designate $20,000 to each group for their research. Each project will benefit from the expertise of faculty, staff and students from different disciplines and perspectives. Projects will offer students an opportunity to develop meaningful research skills and to participate in research presentations and publications. " Previous NCCHW funding has supported 28 faculty and 18 students from 13 departments across all three divisions of the university. More than half of those students graduated with distinction as Undergraduate Research Scholars. We look forward to continued opportunities to promote health and wellness across the state while providing connections for community engagement and research to both faculty and students," said Dr. Reeve.