NIH Obesity Research Task Force Virtual Symposium: Advances in Childhood Obesity Research by the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program: June 6, 2023

Meeting Objective

The objective for this virtual meeting is to learn about scientific advances in childhood obesity research conducted by the NIH Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Program.

ECHO’s mission is to enhance the health of children for generations to come. The program consists of the ECHO-wide Cohort, which weaves together data from 69 ongoing longitudinal maternal-child observational studies, as well as a pediatric clinical trials network. The symposium will focus on findings from the ECHO-wide Cohort, which supports studies on how exposures from preconception to age 5 years may influence child health outcomes from the birth through adolescence. One of ECHO’s key outcome areas is childhood obesity.

The ECHO-wide Cohort currently includes more than 50,000 children plus family members, who come from racially, socioeconomically, and geographically diverse backgrounds across the United States.

This seminar will cover several determinants of childhood obesity that take advantage of ECHO’s size and diversity, including natural experiments, community level factors, social and chemical stressors, and health behaviors.


Tuesday, June 6, 2023

1:00–1:10 Welcoming Remarks
Matthew W. Gillman, MD, SM, Director, ECHO Program, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health
1:10–1:25 Overview of ECHO Obesity Research
Monique Hedderson, PhD, Associate Director, Women’s and Children’s Health Section, Director of Research Clinics, Division of Research, ​Kaiser Permanente Northern California

Evaluation of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA): An Example of Using Natural Experiments for Policy Evaluation in ECHO

Aruna Chandran, MD, MPH, Senior Scientist, Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

The COVID-19 Pandemic and Obesity-Related Behaviors Among Children in the ECHO Program

Traci Bekelman, PHD, MPH, Research Assistant Professor, Colorado School of Public Health, Department of Epidemiology, Lifecourse Epidemiology of Adiposity and Diabetes (LEAD) Center
2:25–2:55 Neighborhood Opportunity and Vulnerability, and Obesity Among U.S. Children in the ECHO cohorts
Izzudin Aris, PhD Assistant Professor, Department of Population Medicine, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute and Harvard Medical School
2:55–3:25 Social and Chemical Stressors in Childhood Obesity
Sheena Martenies, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois
3:25–3:30 Wrap-up
S. Sonia Arteaga, PhD, Program Officer, ECHO Program, Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health

Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodation to participate in this event should contact S. Sonia Arteaga ( Requests should be made by Tuesday, May 30.

This page last reviewed on October 3, 2023