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teenagers walking

The Family Health Study (FHS) falls under the umbrella project of the larger Family Life Project (FLP), which is a 14 year collaboration between the Pennsylvania State University and the University of North Carolina. While much research exists to date on urban youth, the Family Life Project focuses on rural, poor youth and has been following 1000+ children and their families since birth in 2003 – 2004. It is the largest and most comprehensive research project of its kind worldwide. The main goal of FLP is to examine the ways various life factors such as family, relationships, economic status, community, and individual differences influence the ways children grow, develop, and thrive. Long-term, the Family Life Project hopes that the data collected will help to develop programs designed to foster school readiness, as well as promote healthy families and general well-being.

The NIH-funded Family Health Study has been collecting data from a subset of these FLP families since 2017. The overall goal of FHS is to examine the links between stress, eating behavior, and obesity in adolescents (ages 12-15 years). We conduct two home visits per family consisting of questionnaires, executive function tasks, challenge tasks, and a meal; during the visit, the child wears a heart rate monitor and gives saliva samples. Families also participate in web surveys and adolescents have additional opportunities to wear a physical activity monitor and complete dietary recall telephone surveys. The Family Health Study team is excited to be a part of the Family Life Project and contribute to the impressive and abundant research already collected!