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September 18, 2017   Columns Articles | Inside UGA | New director, new direction for UGA Obesity Initiative
Magnify Birch, Leann 2014-h.env
Leann Birch Photo by Paul Efland

New director, new direction for UGA Obesity Initiative

September 18, 2017
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Leann Birch, the William P. Flatt Professor in the foods and nutrition department in the College of Family and Consumer Sciences and a leader in research on early obesity prevention, has been named the new director the UGA Obesity Initiative.

"Dr. Birch brings renewed energy as well as a focus on transdisciplinary research that informs effective and sustainable obesity prevention programs, especially for young children and their families," said UGA Vice President for Research David Lee.

The UGA Obesity Initiative was launched in 2012 as a campus-wide initiative. Directed by Clifton A. "Cliff" Baile, a D.W. Brooks Distinguished Professor and GRA Eminent Scholar in Biotechnology at the University of Georgia, the initiative's mission is to address the epidemic of obesity and overweight that faces the state of Georgia and the U.S. Under Baile, UGA responded to this critical health issue with a broad initiative that harnessed the efforts of a diverse group of UGA faculty. Although Baile died suddenly in 2014, the initiative has continued with Lee as its interim director.

It is well established that dietary habits formed early in life have profound impacts on the risk of obesity in later life. Under Birch's direction, the Obesity Initiative will emphasize the reduction of obesity-related health disparities among low-income African-Americans through a partnership with the UGA Center for Family Research.

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