Lanningham-Foster named Roderuck Faculty Fellow
The Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition is pleased to announce Dr. Lorraine Lanningham-Foster, assistant professor, as the holder of the Charlotte E. Roderuck Faculty Fellowship.
“I am so pleased to be receiving this fellowship,” said Lanningham-Foster, who joined the faculty in 2009. She continued, “It validated the choices I’ve made in my research focus with human subjects.”
Lanningham-Foster always wanted to work with human subjects. At Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, she had the opportunity to gain expertise in all aspects of clinical research. Her long love of children led her to study the complex problem of childhood obesity.
“You can do fun things with kids!” remarked Lanningham-Foster. Though she initially thought elementary-age children would be challenging to work with, she has found them to be flexible and easy-going. “They are so interested in learning at that age,” she said. “They want to know what is happening to their bodies.”
Part of Lanningham-Foster’s work in the war against childhood obesity has been the revolutionary concept of exer-gaming, a term for video games that are also a form of exercise. Her work has found that use of an activity-promoting video game console increases movement and energy expenditure when compared to sedentary activities, like watching television or using traditional sedentary gaming consoles.
Obesity is hard to tease apart; there are genetic and biological contributors and an environmental influence. Lanningham-Foster is collaborating with Dr. Christina Campbell to show the relationship between the health of women and their children in utero and after birth. “We hope to continue following these subjects and learn more about how physical environment influences health,” she said.
Obesity affects more than just children. In order to impact obesity, we need to explore in greater detail effective strategies for improving the health of Americans at home and work, she said. For example, it’s not a new idea to walk around during meetings, Lanningham-Foster continued. Making sedentary time less so by doing small things, such as standing up during a phone call, can affect energy balance.
Lanningham-Foster recently completed a small study with Mayo Clinic hospital nurses who are working mothers. The study developed a 10-week worksite physical activity intervention which was integrated into the work flow of the hospital for participants. Lanningham-Foster said the idea was to subtly increase energy expenditure. She is currently working with her collaborators to further develop the program here in Ames and at the University of Iowa.
Regardless of age, Lanningham-Foster has immersed herself in researching the relationship of activity and diet. “All the complexities make me enjoy studying obesity,” she said.
The Charlotte E Roderuck Faculty Fellowship was made possible through a gift from Dr. Roderuck. Roderuck had an illustrious career at Iowa State University, retiring in 1988 as a Distinguished Professor in Home Economics. The fellowship benefits a faculty member in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition affiliated with the Nutrition and Wellness Research Center. Lanningham-Foster will hold the fellowship for three years.
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