HHP given $3.2 million to study alcohol, fitness interventions for adolescents

Published: June 14 2007

Category:Announcements, Top Stories

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The Addictive & Health Behaviors Research Institute, part of the University of Florida College of Health and Human Performance, has received a $3.2 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to continue research on alcohol and fitness interventions for adolescents. NIAAA, which is part of the National Institutes of Health, will fund the research for the next five years.

Chad Werch, director of the AHB Research Institute and principal investigator, said this study is unique because adolescents from diverse high school settings will receive positive youth development messages along with health risk messages for substance abuse, thus targeting multiple health behaviors during a single, short intervention session.

“This project strives to reduce alcohol abuse and problems among high-risk older adolescents often ignored in prevention research and services,” Werch said.

The intervention study, called Active!, hopes to combat physical inactivity, alcohol and drug misuse, poor nutrition and lack of sleep, all of which are common issues among today’s teenagers. According to research, more than half of American youths are not physically active on a regular basis. National health data for high school students also show an alarming 25.5 percent of students have been involved in heavy episodic drinking in the past month, according to the Youth Risk Behavior and Surveillance Survey in 2005.

This grant will allow AHB Research Institute to provide a free, activity-based health promotion program for at-risk high school students at various northeast Florida public schools, Werch said.

Werch said research on an initial intervention titled SPORT showed an increase in moderate and vigorous physical activity, and a decrease in alcohol use, heavy drinking and alcohol problems among participating adolescents.

“Active! is built on years of previous research funded by the National Institutes of Health,” Werch said. “It is designed to increase physical activity, decrease alcohol use and promote better nutrition and sleep habits.”

The first phase of the program will have students evaluate future intervention strategies for content and design. The next phase will consist of evaluations of a 20-minute screen, fitness consultation, and a plan created by computer or a fitness specialist. A third phase will examine a parent-based program delivered by mail to participating adolescents’ homes.

“Our trained intervention staff will provide brief motivational programs addressing a variety of health behaviors including, exercise, eating healthy, resting properly and avoiding alcohol and other drug use,” Werch said.


Media Contact
Michele Dye, 352-392-0578

Category:Announcements, Top Stories