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Tripicchio named winner in first phase of challenge to prevent childhood obesity

A new project by Gina Tripicchio, assistant professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences, was selected as one of 10 winners in the first phase of the Using Technology to Prevent Childhood Obesity in Low-Income Families and Communities Challenge by the Health Resources and Services Administration's Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB), an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services. The challenge is one of four Grand Challenges launched by MCHB that address critical maternal and child health issues.

As a winner, Tripicchio received funding for her project, “Developing an mHealth Intervention to Engage Low-Income Mothers in an Obesity Prevention Program”, and will continue to the challenge’s second phase, where she will develop a prototype and conduct small-scale testing through July 2019 with the guidance of a diverse panel of expert advisors.

“We are very excited about the potential for reaching families via mobile health (mHealth)—a promising approach for obesity prevention that provides ongoing contact in an engaging way, without requiring a lot of time or burden for participants,” said Tripicchio. “We can use mHealth to design programs that are easily accessible, readily available and interactive.”

At the conclusion of the second phase, up to five entrants will be selected to receive a cash prize of $25,000 and advance to the final phase of the challenge. In that phase, the winning teams will test their interventions on a larger scale, and MCHB will select one winner to receive a grand prize of $150,000.

The ten winning designs in the first phase aim to empower low income families to achieve healthy lifestyles and improve the health of communities across the U.S. As they develop their interventions, they will collaborate with different populations, including breastfeeding mothers, children ages birth to 19, Latino, American Indian and Alaskan Native families, and families with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Entrants included academics, health professionals, startups, community groups, faith-based organizations and individuals.

“Few mHealth programs have been developed specifically to address barriers and challenges faced by low-income families,” said Tripicchio. “This study is unique because we will be adapting messages and content based on input from parents in our community. This will ensure that we provide information that allows families to achieve healthy practices in the environment where they live, work and play."

Read more news from the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences.

— Chris Sarachilli

Posted:  January 17, 2019