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Former UAB trainee Cardel named finalist in ASN Young Minority Investigator Oral Competition

March 20, 2015

Michelle Cardel, PhD, RD—former trainee in UAB’s Department of Nutrition Sciences working with mentor Professor José Fernández, PhD, and current postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado, Denver—has been selected as one of five finalists for the 2015 American Society for Nutrition (ASN) Young Minority Investigator Oral Competition, part of the ASN’s commitment to recruiting, developing, and advancing “underrepresented minorities throughout the nutrition field.” Each finalist will give a 10-minute oral presentation summarizing his/her abstract at the ASN’s Scientific Sessions & Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2015, to be held March 28-April 1, 2015, in Boston. The grand prize winner will be determined from this oral competition.

Dr. Cardel’s eligibility was based on the review of her abstract submission, “Self-Concept and Obesity Risk in Low Income Diverse Preschoolers.” In this study—that addresses the developmental course of weight-related impacts on self-concept in older obese children reporting lower levels of self-esteem than normal weight children, which has not previously been well documented—Dr. Cardel and colleagues examine associations among domains of self-concept and child sex, ethnicity, and weight status in a sample of low-income, diverse preschoolers.

Self-concept and pediatric weight status were collected at baseline as part of the Colorado Longitudinal Eating And Physical activity (LEAP) study, which “utilizes a social ecological approach to explore individual, family and environmental factors and their relationship to child weight status over a 3 year timeframe.” Participants were 253 low-income preschoolers (54.8 percent female and 39.5 percent Hispanic, with a mean age of 4.65 years). Self-concept was measured with an assessment that quantified children's self-perceptions in four domains: Cognitive Competence, Physical Competence, Peer Acceptance, and Maternal Acceptance. Weight status and classification were calculated based on measured height and weight. Statistical analysis included Pearson's Correlations and independent t-tests (α<.05).

Domains of self-concept were found to be highly inter-correlated (p<0.01). Children with low perceived Peer and Maternal Acceptance also reported low Cognitive and Physical Competence, independent of weight status, sex, and ethnicity. Measures of self-concept were not related to child weight status or classification, nor did they differ according to sex, ethnicity, or weight status. Results suggest that weight status in low-income preschool-aged children does not yet influence self-perceptions related to maternal and peer acceptance or cognitive or physical competence.