In the fall of 2009, Dr. Lumeng was awarded a Challenge Grant from the National Institutes of Health, and the research team immediately began work on an exciting new project that examines the links between stress and eating behaviors in preschool children. The project, known as the ABC (Appetite, Behavior, and Cortisol) Preschool Study, is interested in determining whether preschool-aged children use food to regulate their emotions, and whether doing so relates to their weight status.
The team has worked with Head Start families from Jackson, Hillsdale, Livingston, Ingham, and Washtenaw counties. For two years, we collected saliva samples from the children to measure their daily cortisol (a stress hormone) patterns, and we also observed how much they eat when they are not hungry by presenting them with toys and snack foods right after breakfast. Parents also completed a set of questionnaires relating to their child's food intake and behavior.
Data collection for this study ended in May of 2011, with 380 families participating!