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Biography

Annie Thomas has completed her Ph.D at the age of 35 years from Chaudhary Charan Singh University, India and working as an Assistant Professor at Loyola University Chicago since 2009. Before relocating to Chicago, A. Thomas was an Assistant professor at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, USA for almost 5 years. A.Thomas’ current research focus is to understand the obesity prevention behaviors among Asian Indian adolescents in the US and to institute obesity/overweight intervention strategies in reducing the risk factors for type 2 diabetes and Coronary Heart Disease in later life. A. Thomas has mentored many students in completing the research projects and research presentations in the US and abroad. She is also a reviewer of manuscripts and abstracts for various publishing companies/organizations. She has presented many papers on various topics at the national and international level.

Abstract

The number of children at risk for overweight and/or obesity has increased dramatically in the last decade worldwide. Overweight in children is associated with the development of cardiovascular disease later in life. Although much is known about race differences in obesity among adults, less is known about race and ethnic differences among Asian Indian adolescents. The purpose of this feasibility study was to evaluate obesity prevention behaviors of Asian Indian adolescent females and determine the relationship of these behaviors to cardiovascular risk factors. A cross sectional descriptive design was used to obtain baseline data regarding knowledge of and engagement in health behaviors needed to maintain a healthy weight (i.e., obesity prevention behaviors). In addition, self efficacy to adopt obesity prevention behaviors and level of acculturation were assessed. BMI, percent body fat, waist circumference, and blood pressure were measured and evaluated with respect to age-appropriate norms to provide an index of cardiovascular risk. A convenience sample (N=20) of female Asian Indians 14-18 years of age were enrolled from churches. After participant and parental consent, participants completed self report questionnaires that ask about demographic and health history, knowledge of and engagement in physical activity, healthy diet as well as self efficacy to adopt these behaviors, and sleeping behaviors. To quantify engagement in physical activity, participants wore an accelerometer for 7 days, which objectively recorded their level and intensity of physical activity. Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index assessed the sleep duration and quality. As the level of acculturation may modify study outcomes, the Suinn-Lew Asian Self-Identity Acculturation Scale are also administered. Lastly, this study explored the usefulness of a novel technology to assess food intake and physical activity. For this purpose, participants are asked to complete a 3-day food diary using the web-based USDA SuperTracker in combination with photo-documentation of their meals. Descriptive statistics was used to determine the demographic characteristics and for all study variables. Cardiovascular risk factors (BMI, waist circumference, and blood pressure) are compared to age/gender appropriate percentiles based on population norms, as referenced in the Research Plan. Relationships among variables are determined by calculating the Pearson’s Product Moment Correlation coefficient. (Note: Results and Conclusion: Analysis completed and final report will be ready by mid-September).