Thursday, November 3, 2016

URSP Student Leila Raminpour Examines Relationships between Parental Nutrition Communication Strategies and Adolescent Girls' Eating, BMI, and Menarche Age

I’m Leila Raminpour and my major is Community Health, with a concentration in Clinical Science. My project involves secondary analysis of a dataset from the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) FLASHE (Family Life, Activity, Sun, Health, and Eating) study. The goal of my research is to examine relationships between parental nutrition communication strategies and adolescent girls’ eating behavior, BMI-for-age, and age at menarche (first menstrual period).

I’ve always been interested in women’s health, but my interest in this particular subject area was peaked when I read an op-ed about how age at menarche is an indicator of future health status. My interest grew as I wrote my final paper on the topic in NUTR 422 (Nutrition through the Lifecycle). When I realized that there was not enough literature on the subject, I approached my instructor, registered dietitian Camella Rising, to determine her willingness to mentor me.

On a weekly basis, I meet with my mentor to learn how to use SPSS and prepare the FLASHE dataset for statistical analysis. No week is the same, however, which definitely helps keep the project interesting (statistics can be a bit dry!). For example, last week I had the opportunity to meet fellows and program managers at the NCI branch where FLASHE is managed (see photo). This project has shown me that there is much more that goes into analyzing relationships between health-related behaviors and health outcomes than I realized.

Since I hope to be an OBGYN one day, I’m seeing how helpful it will be to my future career to better understand how parents influence their adolescent girls’ eating behavior, and how that influence might promote good health outcomes. Diving deeply into the subject has broadened my understanding of the scope of the issue.