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Search Results to Kai Ling Kong

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research overview Dr. Kong’s research targets health during pregnancy and infancy in order to identify novel insights into childhood obesity prevention. One premise of her work is grounded in behavioral economics and necessitates valid early measures of food and non-food reinforcement. Based on this framework, an individual’s decision to eat or participate in a fun activity, for example, is moderated by their constraints on those options and the presence of alternatives. Another premise of her work is grounded in environmental enrichment and choice architecture. Relevant literature suggests that increasing the availability of options in one’s environment can be effective at making a healthy lifestyle more attainable. Within the abovementioned areas, she is intrigued by why a strong motivation to eat arises in some individuals but not others. Through a series of pilot studies, she developed a paradigm measuring the reinforcing values of food and non-food alternatives during early life. She discovered that there are individual differences in motivation to earn food vs. non-food rewards as early as infancy, and that lower motivation to engage in non-food activities is associated with a greater weight status. Such findings led her to secure an R01 investigating the efficacy of a music program to shift motivation to eat in 9–15-month-olds particularly attracted to food. In the near future, she aims to utilize data collected from this line of research to create unique approaches that enhance traditional strategies for improving infants’ energy intakes and expenditures. Rapid weight gain during the first year of life predicts later obesity and is notably prevalent among low socioeconomic status (SES) groups. Dr. Kong argues that ecological and economic circumstances experienced by low SES individuals (e.g., lack of eating alternatives, chronic deprivation) augments food reinforcement; therefore, implementing interventions that promote non-food reinforcement may decrease socioeconomic disparities in obesity. Additionally, and more broadly speaking, Dr. Kong believes that obesity prevention commencing during the prenatal period has the largest potential to effectively tackle our current epidemic. At present, she serves as a co-investigator for an R33/R21 assessing how exposure to tobacco and cannabis in utero adversely affects child health, in particular, obesity development. In another grant as well, she is interested in evaluating the relationship between maternal cholesterol levels throughout pregnancy and infant outcomes.

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  • Pediatric Obesity