Monday, November 24, 2008

Group 1 (Food as a Public Health Issue) & Group 2 (Health in New Jersey) (3rd post)

While members of Groups 1 and 2 are busy starting their research work this week, I thought it would be interesting to ask them how they got interested in their chosen topics. It turned out that they all have different and very interesting reasons, ranging from personal career interests to inspirations from recent new events. Having understood the rationales of their research topics, I became even more excited in expecting what they will find at the end of the project!

Let's hear what they said...

Group 1 - Food as a Public Health Issue

History of food availability in the US (Carine Davila)
“I've decided to write about the history of food availability and its correlation with aggregate health outcomes (e.g. longevity). I became interested in the topic because longevity in the last century has increased due to advances in medical technology and other public health measures. This project has prompted me to consider whether food availability may have actually played a role as well. I'm eager to learn more about the impact of food availability. I think it will be interesting to see exactly how I can measure food availability over time, and whether or not studies have been done along these lines. Furthermore, I think the question may be a tricky one, because food availability does not necessarily correlate with consumption choices made by individuals, so it may not lead to a correlation with health outcomes. Nevertheless, since we wish to look at aggregate health outcomes, this may be the only level to see any kind of impact.”

History and contemporary politics of school lunch programs (Lauren Bartholomew)
“I specifically chose to do research on school lunch programs, because I remember hearing on the news debates over the healthiness of food provided by school lunch programs. I was interested in the topic but did not have time to pursue researching it. Therefore, I figured that this [CBLI project] would be a good way to learn more about the topic while fulfilling our class's paper requirement.”

History of the USDA food pyramid, food safety regulations, and changing government assertions about what is healthy (Carol Shih)
“This topic is interesting because of the recent food scandals coming out of China - it has really shaken up the consumers internationally. As citizens and consumers, we need to pay attention to what is put into our food, how it is produced, and who is buying these products. Because many people are either unconcerned with or just not knowledgeable about what our food consists, or even what's healthy, the government should play a role in determining what is acceptable and what isn't.”

Group 2 – Health in New Jersey

Lung cancer, cirrhosis and AIDS (Sara Peters)
“I chose lung cancer, cirrhosis and AIDS because I was motivated to find how illnesses relate to choice-based behaviors in different races. There is definitely a positive correlation between acquiring these diseases and performing what many people see as “morally questionable behaviors”. Although the jury is out in the question of whether these behaviors do relate to negative lifestyle/health choices, I became curious to see which race would have a higher prevalence. It is unknown to us that among people who engage in these behaviors, which racial group would have a higher association with lung cancer, cirrhosis, and AIDS.”

Diabetes, obesity, and heart disease (Emily Hankin)
“I am very interested in childhood obesity and the diseases that are often associated with it. Especially in the last year, the various initiatives across the country to combat obesity have met with enthusiasm from some [people], and skepticism/disbelief from others. I am interested in whether these initiatives actually have any effect, or whether reducing obesity is something that needs to be addressed within the family, rather than imposed by the government.”

Infant mortality and maternal health (Rosalynd Upton)
“I am researching infant mortality and gestational diabetes. I am interested in this topic because I am thinking about becoming a perinatologist, which is a doctor who deals with high risk pregnancies. I thought this topic would be a good way for me to start thinking about women's and infant's health.”

Childhood vaccination, childhood asthma, and childhood injuries (Alexandra Douwes)
“I have always been very interested in pediatrics. I shadowed a pediatric surgeon for a day in high school once, and love to work with children. Moreover, I believe that in order to solve the many health disparities and health issues currently troubling the U.S, we will have to focus on children's health first, as they will grow up to set the health norms and precedent for future generations.”

Unintentional injuries and resulting deaths (Yuna Sakuma)
“I ended up doing unintentional injuries because it was the only one that had not been chosen out of the websites with data that could easily be used for our project. However, I am gladI am doing it now. I am much more aware that there are significant death rates for unintentionalinjuries, and from my perspective, they are often overlooked. It is not something you would think of as causing in a racial disparity, but from my present knowledge, it does. I am looking forward to compiling the data and finding out the specifics about this cause of death.”