Research Roundup: Studying Eating, Activity, and Health in Kids and Teens

Candy and fruit.

Published July 26, 2023


Health and wellness are common concerns for parents. It can be stressful for families to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle amid busy schedules, staying on a budget, and dealing with picky eaters. How can parents make feeding their kids easier and more exciting? A University at Buffalo research team is tackling this issue with the UB EATS study.

Participants in the study, which will look at eating, activity, and health in children and teens ages 11 to 14 years old, will be asked to eat snacks like Doritos, Sour Patch Kids, and M&Ms, play games, and answer survey questions.

Inspired by earlier research

UB EATS is led by Jennifer Temple, PhD, Professor, Director of the Nutrition and Health Research Lab, Department of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, School of Public Health and Health Professions, an expert in nutrition and exercise.

The study was inspired by a previous study involving local families. “We had been working with teens and looking at eating behavior and growth,” Temple explains. “We noticed that the kids that had the strongest relationship among the behaviors that we were measuring, and weight change, were from food insecure households. So, we wanted to explore those relationships further.”

Similar to other studies conducted in the Nutrition and Health Research Lab, UB EATS is exploring eating behavior, food motivation, growth, and impulsivity. To better understand the role of income and food insecurity in outcomes, Temple says the new study “is centered on lower income and minority families, and we are assessing other social determinants of health along with our usual outcomes of interest.”

What families can expect

Families will be enrolled in the study for two years and will visit the UB South Campus (at Main Street and Bailey Avenue) six times. The first three visits take place over two to three weeks and three additional study visits will be held six, 15, and 24 months later. All study visits should take between 45 minutes and one hour.

“When families come to campus, they will answer questionnaires, eat snack food, play computer games and have physical measurements like height and blood pressure taken,” Temple explains. “In between the second and third visits, they will be given portions of snack food to take home and eat every day.” Temple adds that more than just snack foods will be provided; a box of produce will be sent to participants’ homes after the third visit.

Monthly workshops that provide nutrition education via Zoom are a novel part of the UB EATS study. “The ‘Healthy Bites’ workshops cover a variety of topics, such as healthy eating; how to meal plan, meal prep, and grocery shop; and how to feed a family on a budget,” says Temple. Families participating in the UB EATS study are also involved in planning the workshops and can offer their thoughts on topics to be covered at future sessions.

How to get involved

Families can join UB EATS during all of 2023. If you or someone you know might be interested in participating or would like more information about the study, contact the leadership team at or 716-829-2022, or see the study’s listing on the Participate in Research Portal. Temple adds that referral bonuses are provided if family and friends referred to the study complete a visit.