The Developmental Framework
Development is constant, but not all domains (e.g., eating behavior, physical development, self-regulation, cognition, social relationships) develop in synchrony across childhood. In order to achieve our vision — driving discovery to end childhood obesity — we need to understand:
- How development occurs in each domain of development
- What qualifies as normative and risky development in each domain (“risk phenotypes”)
- How different domains can influence each other (e.g., fine motor development allows for a child to hold her own spoon)
- How each domain is affected by context
Applying a Developmental Framework
Implementing interventions and policies during sensitive developmental periods can have greater impact in reducing early obesity. The Momentum Center utilizes a developmental framework by:
- Studying influences on growth during “critical periods” of childhood (from womb to early infancy, from preschool to school-age and into adolescence) prior to rapid rates of increase in obesity;
- Examining different domains of development and how they interact;
- Evaluating biological, behavioral, and environmental contexts in which children develop; and
- Considering not only the child’s own developmental history, but the parents’ developmental history — psychological representations, family traditions and beliefs, and characteristics (e.g., maternal depression, obesity) — as powerful enhancers or barriers to intervention
How will a developmental framework help to ensure research has a direct impact on programs and policies?
Embracing a developmental framework to inform intervention requires expertise across disciplines and working with multiple sectors that have the potential to influence development. Center researchers are national and international leaders in their respective fields, bringing not only their individual and collective successes in research on child obesity, but also “built-in” collaborations with local, regional, national, and international agencies and collaborators. Through these partnerships with practitioners, policymakers, and advocates, Momentum provides a unique platform for a dynamic dialogue that informs our collective efforts to change child obesity funding, programs, and policies.