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USDA to give $4 million for critical childhood obesity research

Staff writer |
Six universities have been awarded nearly $4 million in funding by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help fight obesity and improve the health of children, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said.

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Kids are now eating 16 percent more vegetables and 23 percent more fruit at lunch.
Tom Vilsack, Agriculture Secretary
Secretary Vilsack also announced that USDA is accepting applications for up to $7 million for additional projects next year. This funding is available through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill and administered by USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).

"Decades of research supports the fact that children who are hungry don't do well in the classroom and suffer from related health issues like obesity, diabetes and other serious chronic diseases. USDA has invested and will continue to invest in our children so that all of them, no matter where they are born or what their parents' income levels are, have a shot at a healthy and productive future," said Secretary Vilsack.

"Since implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, kids are now eating 16 percent more vegetables and 23 percent more fruit at lunch, more low-income children are benefiting from breakfast and lunch programs, and nearly four million children have access to healthy food in the summer when school is out and meals are scarce.

"Data show some signs of progress on childhood obesity, particularly among our youngest children, and the projects these researchers are undertaking will ensure we have evidence-based tools to continue moving the dial."

Established by the 2008 Farm Bill and re-authorized in the 2014 Farm Bill, AFRI is the nation's premier competitive, peer-reviewed grants program for fundamental and applied agricultural sciences.

In the seven years since AFRI was established, the program has led to true innovations and ground-breaking discoveries in agriculture to combat childhood obesity, improve and sustain rural economic growth, address water availability issues, increase food production, find new sources of energy, mitigate the impacts of climate variability and enhance resiliency of our food systems, and ensure food safety.

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