college of public health and human sciences

Parenting Education Week May 20-26 casts spotlight on effective parenting

CORVALLIS, Ore. – National problems of childhood obesity and school readiness – and how effective parenting can play a role in overcoming these issues – is lending new urgency this year in Oregon to Parenting Education Week, which takes place May 20-26.

As a kickoff for the week, Gov. John Kitzhaber will sign a proclamation on Friday, May 11, in the Ceremonial Office at the Capitol.

Oregon State University’s Hallie E. Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families, which has taken a leadership role in parenting education in Oregon, will hold a series of events as part of Parenting Education Week. They include:

  • Monday, May 21, 3 p.m.: “Making the Link Between Parenting and Policy: Understanding the Impact of Parenting on Early Childhood Outcomes,” a presentation by Rebecca Parlakian of the Washington, D.C.-based Zero to Three.
  • Wednesday, May 23, 2 p.m.: A panel discussion on parenting education in Oregon
  • Friday, May 25, noon: “Measuring and Predicting Healthy Development in Young Children,” an analysis by Megan McClelland, associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences.

All presentations will take place at the Hallie Ford Center on campus and will be streamed live on the Web at: http://health.oregonstate.edu/hallie-ford/.

“Parenting skills are learned, and always have been,” said Denise Rennekamp, parenting education program coordinator for the Hallie Ford Center. “In the past perhaps those skills were gained from a family and extended community network. But today as people are more separated by distance, and parents have to work more, the ability to learn those skills and obtain that knowledge can be a struggle.”

Rennekamp says effective parenting education programs have been linked with decreased rates of child abuse and neglect, better physical, cognitive and emotional development in children, and increased parental knowledge of child development and parenting skills. A list of resources is available here: http://health.oregonstate.edu/hallie-ford/resources

Kathy Barber, a parenting education specialist with Pathways to Positive Parenting, an organization that offers parenting classes and workshops in Coos and Curry counties, said with limited resources and many demands, the skills and resources that researchers at the Hallie Ford Center offer have proven invaluable.

“OSU provides a solid foundation upon which to stand as we extend ourselves and dream big about what is possible to achieve for children and families,” she said. “It is a secure feeling to know that if there is a problem to be solved, or a need to be met regarding data, curricula, online reporting issues or conference content that I can get the help or resources I might need by calling any of the OSU team.”

Through the Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative, the Hallie Ford Center has taken a leadership role in evaluating the effectiveness of nonprofit programs that offer help to parents. The collaborative provides grants to nonprofit organizations to build systems, coordinate services, and provide programs for parenting education.

The collaborative is a partnership with The Ford Family Foundation, OSU, the Meyer Memorial Trust, The Collins Foundation and The Oregon Community Foundation.

Annual grants of $80,000 to $90,000 support regional parenting education “hubs.” The 12 hubs are in: Wallowa/Baker, Deschutes/Crook/Jefferson, Douglas, Linn/Benton, Hood River/Wasco and Coos/Curry, Columbia/Clatsop, Lincoln, Polk, Umatilla/Morrow, Lane and Siskiyou County, California. More information is available at: http://health.oregonstate.edu/hallie-ford/oregon-parenting-education-week/opec-hubs

Media Contact: 

Denise Rennekamp, 541-737-1013

Annual student fashion show set for May 25

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The annual student-run fashion show featuring collections from juniors and seniors in Oregon State University’s professional apparel design program will take place Friday, May 25, beginning at 7 p.m. in the CH2M Hill Alumni Center on campus.

Presented by students in the Department of Design and Human Environment, the theme of this year’s show is “Cirque de la Mode,” which translates as Circus of Fashion. This show brings in representatives from the apparel industry from Portland and other local businesses.

The event is put on by Oregon State’s spring fashion show class which consists of 18 students, all of whom are either apparel design or merchandise management majors.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 for standing room, $20 for general admission, $30 for preferred and $100 for V.I.P. For information, go to http://oregonstatefashionshow.com/

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Knee injuries in women linked to motion, nervous system differences

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Women are more prone to knee injuries than men, and the findings of a new study suggest this may involve more than just differences in muscular and skeletal structure – it shows that males and females also differ in the way they transmit the nerve impulses that control muscle force.

Scientists at Oregon State University found that men control nerve impulses similar to individuals trained for explosive muscle usage – like those of a sprinter – while the nerve impulses of women are more similar to those of an endurance-trained athlete, like a distance runner.

In particular, the research may help to explain why women tend to suffer ruptures more often than men in the anterior cruciate ligament of their knees during non-contact activities. These ACL injuries are fairly common, can be debilitating, and even when repaired can lead to osteoarthritis later in life.

More study of these differences in nervous system processing may lead to improved types of training that individuals could use to help address this issue, scientists said.

“It’s clear that women move differently than men, but it’s not as obvious why that is,” said Sam Johnson, a clinical assistant professor in the OSU School of Biological and Population Health Sciences.

“There are some muscular and skeletal differences between men and women, but that doesn’t explain differences in injury rates as much as you might think,” Johnson said. “No one has really studied the role of the nervous system the way we have in explaining these differences, specifically the way sensory information is processed and integrated with motor function in the spinal cord.”

In this study, just published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, the scientists found that most aspects of spinal motor control and rapid activation of muscles were similar in 17 men and 17 women that were examined – with one exception. Men had a higher level of “recurrent inhibition,” which is a process in the spinal cord that helps select the appropriate muscle response.

Even a process as simple as walking is surprisingly complicated, as people process large amounts of information and use varying forces to move around obstacles, change direction or simply climb up a step. And when you slip on an icy patch, the need for extremely rapid and accurate muscle response might be all that stands between you and a broken hip.

For some reason, women tend to have knee motions that make them more susceptible to injury. Among other things, when landing from a jump their knees tend to collapse inward more than that of most men. They suffer significantly more ACL injuries during physical activity.

“We’re finding differences in nervous system processing that we believe are related to this,” Johnson said. “The causes for those differences are unclear, but it may be due either to a biological difference, such as hormones, or a cultural difference such as different exercise and training patterns.”

This research was supported by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association Research and Education Foundation. Researchers at Marquette University collaborated on the work.

While researchers continue to study what might help address this, Johnson said it’s already possible for women to be more aware of these common differences and do exercises that should reduce problems.

Many ACL injury prevention programs incorporate strength, balance, flexibility, and jump training. However, based on these and other findings, women – especially athletes – should consider training with motions more similar to those of their sport, such as squatting, lunging, jumping or cutting side-to-side.

Use of heavy weights may not really be necessary, Johnson said, so much as mimicking the motions that often cause this injury.

The study this story is based on is available online: http://bit.ly/Ius3gv

Media Contact: 

Sam Johnson, 541-737-6801

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Human knee

Knee joint

Study: Women lack exercise; at risk of developing metabolic syndrome

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A national study shows that women are less likely than men to get at least 30 minutes of exercise per day, resulting in greater odds of developing metabolic syndrome – a risky and increasingly prevalent condition related to obesity.

Metabolic syndrome is a name for a group of risk factors – including high cholesterol, high blood pressure and extra weight around the middle part of the body – which occur together and increase the risk for coronary disease, stroke, and Type 2 diabetes. The researchers initially were interested in the correlation between physical activity, depression and metabolic syndrome, and ended up finding a gender difference.

The study, now online in the journal Preventive Medicine, was conducted at Oregon State University by Paul Loprinzi and Bradley Cardinal, professor of social psychology of physical activity at OSU. Loprinzi is now an assistant professor of exercise science at Bellarmine University. He conducted the research when he was a student in Cardinal’s lab at OSU.

“The results indicate that regular physical activity participation was associated with positive health outcomes for both men and women; however, there was a greater strength of association for women,” Loprinzi said.

Looking at more than 1,000 men and women from a nationally represented sample, the researchers found that women were getting only about 18 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise daily, compared to men who, on average, were getting 30 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous exercise daily.

“Those who get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day are less likely to be depressed, less likely to have high cholesterol and less likely to have metabolic syndrome,” Loprinzi said.

Loprinzi and Cardinal’s study is unique in part because it is the first to use an “objective” measure of physical activity – in this case participants were outfitted with accelerometers that measured daily activity. In their study, slightly more than one in three women had metabolic syndrome, and one in five had symptoms of depression.

“It’s pretty striking what happens to you if you don’t meet that 30 minutes a day of activity,” Cardinal said. “Women in our sample had better health behavior – they were much less likely to smoke for instance, but the lack of activity still puts them at risk.”

Cardinal said depression puts people at more risk of abdominal fat and insulin resistance, and both are risk factors for metabolic syndrome.

“Physical activity has been shown to reduce depression,” he said. “So the key message here is to get that 30 minutes of exercise every day because it reduces a great deal of risk factors.”

While their study does not address why women were not getting enough exercise, the authors said research shows that physical activity patterns often begin in childhood.

“Research has shown that around ages 5 or 6 these patterns begin,” Cardinal said. “Parents tend to be more concerned with the safety of girls, and have more restrictive practices around outdoor time and playtime than with boys.”

Loprinzi said this pattern tends to continue into adulthood, and that overall confidence may be a factor.

“Some evidence indicates that women, compared to men, have less confidence in their ability to overcome their exercise-related barriers,” Loprinzi said, adding that women also often cite a lack of time to exercise due to child-rearing.

The researchers have a study coming out that may help those time-challenged women. Loprinzi said he and Cardinal found that adults can still enhance their health by accumulating physical activity in short periods throughout the day, such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or pacing while talking on the phone.

Media Contact: 

Brad Cardinal, 541-737-2506

OSU doctoral student uses Titanic phenomenon to study importance of dress

CORVALLIS, Ore. – A new generation is discovering the history of the Titanic because of the centennial anniversary of the event this April 14-15, the recent release of a 3-D version of a popular film, and museums and exhibits around the country.

People’s appreciation of the history and culture of the sinking of the famous ship can be enhanced through visual representations of the costumes, according to an Oregon State University doctoral student whose dissertation is on the role of dress in the Titanic.

“The ship itself is the icon,” said Genna Reeves-DeArmond, whose studies focus on historic and cultural dress. “But the attraction goes beyond the sinking; it is more than the ship’s demise. The Titanic is representative of a historical moment and clothing is a tangible marker of that moment. The clothes that the passengers wore add a rich layer to the historical knowledge and provide cultural context for museum visitors.”

“The clothing personalizes the history,” she added, “because people today can relate to it. It is a common thread between people of today and a hundred years ago, even though styles have changed.”

In her studies, Reeves-DeArmond is exploring the display of dress artifacts and costumes in Titanic museum exhibits, in the popular film by James Cameron, and in other representations. A self-described “Titaniac,” she became interested in the history of the ship as a young girl, and then fascinated as an eighth-grader in 1997 when Cameron’s “Titanic” came out and would go on to sweep most of the major Academy Awards the following year.

Whether on film or in museums, the role of dress and costumes is important in how people learn about the event, the OSU grad student notes. She has traveled to Titanic museum exhibits in Branson, Mo., Las Vegas, Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Orlando, Fla., to study the displays and how people interact with them.

“Through both observations and interviews, it is apparent that people identify with passengers that may be closest to them in terms of social status or occupation,” Reeves-DeArmond said. “And that connection is often made by the clothes the passengers wore. The first-class passengers dressed much differently than the third-class passengers.

“Clothing frequently reveals a lot about a particular time in history,” added Reeves-DeArmond, whose studies are based in Oregon State’s Department of Design and Human Environment. “Class differences obviously still exist, but they were much more evident from clothing then. And clothes can reveal other facets of cultural history, such as the length of a dress and the women’s movement.”

One little-known historical tidbit, Reeves-DeArmond said, is that one of the fashion designers responsible for ridding the corset from women’s wear – “Lucile” Lady Duff Gordon – was aboard the Titanic.

The actual history of the Titanic may be forever mingled with its depiction in print and on film, and for her study Reeves-DeArmond has interviewed museum visitors ranging in age from 20 to 84, some who have seen the film and others who have not. One facet of her dissertation is to explore how viewing “Titanic” contributes to the museum experience.

It can confuse some visitors to museums and exhibits, Reeves-DeArmond pointed out. Cameron’s film, for example, focuses on the love story between Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslet), who were fictional characters, but were based on composites of several real passengers.

“They were representative of different classes and that was reflected in their clothing,” Reeves-DeArmond said. “James Cameron’s attention to detail was incredible. But likewise, many of the museums and exhibits have clothing and artifacts that really bring the history alive. The museum in Las Vegas has a pair of men’s pants and shoes that survived under the ocean for decades.”

Films, museums and exhibits increasingly are how many people foster an appreciation of science and history, and Oregon State is a leader in the understanding of this phenomenon, called “free-choice learning.” Reeves-DeArmond says the concept could be enhanced even more if curators of the displays would incorporate more of the clothing, even if it is a replica.

“Clothing is often overlooked in these exhibits,” she said. “One of the Titanic museums I visited had a Marconi replica room, and while it was neat to see the equipment, several visitors told me they would have liked to have seen a uniform – to connect with the person who may have been working in there.”

“Dress is a visual language,” she added, “and it is particularly important in the context of the Titanic. It helps take you back 100 years and visualize the people who survived or perished.”

Media Contact: 

Genna Reeves-DeArmond, 575-571-1671

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Titanic museum at Pigeon Forge, Tenn.

Oregon Dance presents annual concert on April 20 and 21

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon Dance, a performance group from Oregon State University, will present its annual spring concert on Friday and Saturday, April 20-21, at the Corvallis High School Theater.

Carol Soleau, an associate professor of dance at OSU and the founder and director of Oregon Dance, has created imaginative modern dance works, which includes a performance by her Jazz III class performing a dance to the music of Radiohead. Soleau just celebrated 35 years teaching dance at OSU.

“Java Jitters,” a solo dance performed by OSU student Maryam Baghdadi, is an interpretation of the college experience.

Also on tap is Soleau's “Kinetic Color,” which was originally commissioned by the da Vinci Days festival in 1991. The set consists of three “climbing” walls that mysteriously come to life. Soleau has also received permission to reset "Isle,” a piece originally created in 1984. This duet is set to the music of Henry Purcell and was choreographed by her brother William Soleau. It has been in the repertoire of many national dance companies, and performed in more than 30 countries.

Guest artists for this performance include the Corvallis Academy of Dance and Swathi Subramanian, an Indian classical performer who has performed internationally.

Corvallis High School Theater is at 1400 N.W. Buchanan Ave., Corvallis.

Tickets are $12, $8 for college students and seniors and $6 for elementary through high school students. Tickets are available online and at the door. For online ticketing go to http://www.corvallistheaters.com

The concert is sponsored by the OSU School of Biological and Population Sciences, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, OSU Foundation, and the Alonzo and Jennie Bonsal Foundation.

Media Contact: 

Carol Soleau, 541-737-5930

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“Java Jitters,” a solo dance performed by OSU student Maryam Baghdadi, is her interpretation of the college experience. She will perform at Oregon Dance's annual spring concert April 20-21 in Corvallis.

OSU researcher receives career development award from NIH

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An Oregon State University epidemiologist has received a competitive award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) designed to support emerging researchers in biomedical, behavioral, or clinical sciences.

Michelle Odden, an assistant professor of epidemiology in the Center for Healthy Aging Research in OSU's College of Public Health and Human Sciences, received $137,532 for the NIH Mentored Research Scientist Development Award.

Older adults are living longer and healthier lives, yet much of the research on cardiovascular disease epidemiology and prevention has been derived from younger people. Odden will identify the strongest risk factors for cardiovascular disease in the Cardiovascular Health Study, an ongoing NIH-funded cohort study of elderly adults.

She will then use a computer simulation of cardiovascular disease to identify the most promising interventions for cardiovascular disease prevention. Her research will account for the unique risks and benefits of cardiovascular prevention in older adults.

Odden holds a doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and came to OSU from a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco.

Media Contact: 

Michelle Odden, 541-737-3184

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Michelle Odden

Study: Most weight loss supplements are not effective

CORVALLIS, Ore. – An Oregon State University researcher has reviewed the body of evidence around weight loss supplements and has bad news for those trying to find a magic pill to lose weight and keep it off – it doesn’t exist.

Melinda Manore reviewed the evidence surrounding hundreds of weight loss supplements, a $2.4 billion industry in the United States, and said no research evidence exists that any single product results in significant weight loss – and many have detrimental health benefits.

The study is online in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism.

A few products, including green tea, fiber and low-fat dairy supplements, can have a modest weight loss benefit of 3-4 pounds (2 kilos), but it is important to know that most of these supplements were tested as part of a reduced calorie diet.

“For most people, unless you alter your diet and get daily exercise, no supplement is going to have a big impact,” Manore said.

Manore looked at supplements that fell into four categories: products such as chitosan that block absorption of fat or carbohydrates, stimulants such as caffeine or ephedra that increase metabolism, products such as conjugated linoleic acid that claim to change the body composition by decreasing fat, and appetite suppressants such as soluble fibers.

She found that many products had no randomized clinical trials examining their effectiveness, and most of the research studies did not include exercise. Most of the products showed less than a two-pound weight loss benefit compared to the placebo groups.

“I don’t know how you eliminate exercise from the equation,” Manore said. “The data is very strong that exercise is crucial to not only losing weight and preserving muscle mass, but keeping the weight off.”

Manore, professor of nutrition and exercise sciences at OSU, is on the Science Board for the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition. Her research is focused on the interaction of nutrition and exercise on health and performance.

“What people want is to lose weight and maintain or increase lean tissue mass,” Manore said. “There is no evidence that any one supplement does this. And some have side effects ranging from the unpleasant, such as bloating and gas, to very serious issues such as strokes and heart problems.”

As a dietician and researcher, Manore said the key to weight loss is to eat whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean meats, reduce calorie intake of high-fat foods, and to keep moving. Depending on the individual, increasing protein may be beneficial (especially for those trying to not lose lean tissue), but the only way to lose weight is to make a lifestyle change.

“Adding fiber, calcium, protein and drinking green tea can help,” Manore said. “But none of these will have much effect unless you exercise and eat fruits and vegetables.”

Manore’s general guidelines for a healthy lifestyle include:

  • Do not leave the house in the morning without having a plan for dinner. Spontaneous eating often results in poorer food choices.
  • If you do eat out, start your meal with a large salad with low-calorie dressing or a broth-based soup. You will feel much fuller and are less likely to eat your entire entrée. Better yet: split your entrée with a dining companion or just order an appetizer in addition to your soup or salad.
  • Find ways to keep moving, especially if you have a sedentary job. Manore said she tries to put calls on speaker phone so she can walk around while talking. During long meetings, ask if you can stand or pace for periods so you don’t remain seated the entire time
  • Put vegetables into every meal possible. Shred vegetables into your pasta sauce, add them into meat or just buy lots of bags of fruits/vegetables for on-the-go eating.
  • Increase your fiber. Most Americans don’t get nearly enough fiber. When possible, eat “wet” sources of fiber rather than dry – cooked oatmeal makes you feel fuller than a fiber cracker.
  • Make sure to eat whole fruits and vegetables instead of drinking your calories. Eat an apple rather than drink apple juice. Look at items that seem similar and eat the one that physically takes up more space. For example, eating 100 calories of grapes rather than 100 calories of raisins will make you feel fuller.
  • Eliminate processed foods. Manore said research increasingly shows that foods that are harder to digest (such as high fiber foods) have a greater “thermic effect” – or the way to boost your metabolism.
Media Contact: 

Melinda Manore, 541-737-8701

Contraceptive preferences among young Latinos related to decision-making

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Half of the young adult Latino men and women responding to a survey in rural Oregon acknowledge not using regular effective contraception – despite expressing a desire to avoid pregnancy, according to a new Oregon State University study.

Researchers say the low rate of contraception among sexually active 18- to 25-year-olds needs to be addressed – and not just among Latino populations. Research has shown many young adults from all backgrounds eschew contraception for many reasons including the mistaken belief that they or their partners cannot get pregnant.

“The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy calls this ‘magical thinking,’” said Jocelyn Warren, a public health postdoctoral fellow at OSU. “There is this tendency to believe that if you have unprotected sex once and nothing happens, somehow you are incapable of getting pregnant. It is a widespread issue and certainly not just applicable to our study of rural Latinos.”

Widening the scope of earlier work on the contraceptive practices of rural Latinos, the researchers asked questions about cultural and relationship characteristics whose possible links to contraceptive use had not been previously explored within this population.

The OSU study of 450 sexually active Latino men and women found that more involvement in sexual decision-making was important in contraception use – and increased the likelihood of using male condoms, rather than birth control pills or no method at all. While effective at preventing pregnancy, birth control pills don’t prevent sexually transmitted diseases, the researchers point out.

“People who reported being active decision-makers in their relationship tended to use male condoms, which makes sense because using a condom means that both partners have to agree,” said Warren, lead author on the study. “The importance of including men in delivering contraception services and family planning may strengthen effective use because women do not make these decisions alone.”

Another important finding from the study, which was published in the December issue of Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, showed that the less acculturated participants were, the more likely they were to use an effective female method rather than no effective method

Marie Harvey, professor of public health at OSU and one of the study’s co-authors, said this study adds to the growing body of research that points to the need for sexual health research and interventions to be couple-oriented.

“Isolating and targeting women only is not entirely effective,” she said. “Programs and services aimed at preventing unintended pregnancy need to include men because we repeatedly find that women do not make decisions about contraception use on their own, and they do not always have the power in a relationship and this needs to be taken into account.”

Marit Bovbjerg, a postdoctoral fellow at OSU, also contributed to this study, which was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Media Contact: 

Jocelyn Warren, 541-737-1387

Garden research program for teens holds recruitment meetings

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Teens interested in participating in a garden-based Oregon State University research project called Producing for the Future can sign up now for limited placements in Corvallis and Sweet Home.

Participants will earn up to $1,200 for completing the program, which runs from February through August, and will spend up to 10 hours per week learning basic research skills, working in the gardens and handling produce sales. Low-income persons ages 16-20 are invited to apply.

Recruitment meetings will be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, at Westside Community Church, 4000 S.W. Western Blvd., Corvallis, and from 6 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 29, at Sweet Home United Methodist Church, 845 6th Ave., Sweet Home.

The project is funded by the National Institutes of Health to explore health benefits of community-based garden programs.

“Our gardeners are getting lots of physical exercise and access to healthy foods,” said Leslie Richards, assistant professor in the College of Public Health and Human Sciences and leader of the program. “We focus on building a supportive community, learning how to grow vegetables organically, and preparing foods grown in the garden.”

The gardens are located at two local churches, Westside Community Church in southwest Corvallis and Sweet Home United Methodist Church, and have been in operation for a year.

Richards said participants will harvest produce for sale at local farmers' markets and other customer-direct avenues.

“Learning business planning and marketing strategies are also part of the project,” she said. “This project uses a Community Based Participatory Research design, which means that participants are both research subjects and researchers, giving them additional skills in deciding what to measure to document outcomes.”

To qualify, participants must earn less than two times the poverty level. For a single person, this means earning less than $1,815, or for a family of four, less than $3,725.

Adults can participate as nonpaid volunteers. For information, visit http://health.oregonstate.edu/producing-for-the-future

Media Contact: 

Leslie Richards, 888-478-3011