Rodney C. Haring, PhD, research assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson, has received a $75,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to study the best ways to prevent obesity and promote good oral hygiene in Native American youth.
Dr. Haring will conduct a two-year meta-analysis (a “study of studies”) on the links between obesity and poor oral health. Both are related to poor nutrition, and in Native American youth poor nutrition and obesity often lead to diabetes.
“There are a lot of negative things going on between oral hygiene and obesity,” says Dr. Haring, the study’s principal investigator. “A lot of studies have been done on interventions that work and don’t work. This will be a two-year project, reviewing research from 1985 through 2010 to determine the best practices” for promoting oral health and preventing obesity. He expects his findings to have “far-reaching implications for Native American communities across North America.” The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs recognizes more than 500 American Indian tribes in the United States.
Dr. Haring is a member of the UA Native American Research and Training Center (NARTC), an outreach program of the UA Department of Family and Community Medicine. Established in 1983, it serves as a national resource for Native American communities and for persons working with Native American populations, with a focus on health promotion. Dr. Haring is one of two NARTC research faculty members who are based outside the UA.
A member of the Seneca Nation, he lives on the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation near Buffalo, N.Y., where he is a social worker and researcher.
The grant is issued by the RWJF New Connections program, which funds scholars of historically under-represented ethnic or racial minorities, first-generation college graduates and individuals from low-income communities. RWJF is the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted to improving the health and health care of all Americans.