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Inactive Research Studies

Energy Balance Study:

In this study, we are hoping to learn how children ages 9-12 years balance their energy throughout the course of a day. We will do this by providing children with meals of common foods and asking them to participate in different levels of activity. This study takes place over the course of three total days of visits to the Clinical Research Center and the Children’s Eating Behavior Lab at Penn State. Children are provided with breakfast, lunch, a snack, and dinner on these days. They will also complete exercises on a stationary bike and wear an activity tracker on their wrist throughout the study. Participating families will be compensated for their time and effort.

Food Behavior Study:

This study examines the way children’s brains respond to different types of food, and how those brain responses correlate with eating behavior. Children ages 7 to 10 years-old from a range of body weights will be tested. Children and their parents will be asked to attend a total of five experimental sessions. Children will complete a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scan, which will measure activity in the brain in response to pictures of different types of foods. Participants and their parents will also complete a series of computer-based questionnaires related to family demographics, food behavior, and physical activity. Four visits will include a test meal that the children will be asked to eat. Throughout the course of the study, we will also collect physical activity data using Fitbit accelerometer technology and a brief fitness assessment. We hope this data will provide insight into individual differences in food-related behaviors that impact weight status. Participating families will be compensated for the time and effort.

Dairy Study

This study looks at how genes impact fat preferences. We are looking at two common genes that impact the ability to taste fat and bitter. The overall goal of this research study is to use brain imaging and genetic testing to understand why some children prefer higher fat milks than others. This will help us understand differences in susceptibility to diseases like obesity. We are hoping to enroll 150 children, aged 7-9 years-old for this study. The first visit involves completion of questionnaires and the collection of a saliva sample. A subset of children will then be called back for the next three visits. At the follow-up visits, we will do taste tests in our laboratory and an fMRI scan while children tastes dairy products.

Brand Familiarity Pilot Study

Data for the Brand Familiarity Pilot Study were collected from March 2013 through June 2013 by Wendy Stein, Graduate Research Assistant and COPT Fellow, and Emma Beidler, Undergraduate Research Assistant. Twenty 7-to-9 year-old children and their parents participated in one 90-minute visit to our laboratory. We were interested in finding out (1) what children know about common brands and (2) how children respond to common brands. Children were asked if they recognized the brand and if they could name a product, business, or food associated with the brand (e.g., expected the response “fast-food restaurant” when shown the McDonald’s logo). Children were also asked how happy/sad and how bored/excited the images made them feel. The results from this pilot study helped us design protocols for the fMRI and test-meal portions of the fMRI Branding Study.

fMRI Branding Study

The fMRI Branding Study is a follow-up to the Brand Familiarity Pilot Study that includes functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and test-meals. Data were collected from September 2013 through November 2014 by Wendy Stein, Graduate Research Assistant and COPT Fellow, and a team of research assistants. The primary research questions of this study are: (1) How do children respond to common food and non-food brands? and (2) Do children’s individual differences influence their response to branding at laboratory test-meals and during a fMRI scan? During the fMRI protocol, we showed children various images of food brands, non-food brands, and control images in the fMRI scanner. fMRI is a safe method used to detect changes in brain activation that can help us understand why some children respond differently to food brands than others. Additionally, children ate meals in our laboratory. Energy intake at these meals were measured to determine the behavioral responses to food branding. Together, the fMRI and test-meal components will better inform us of the neurological and behavioral effects of branding on 7-to-10 year-old children.