The opportunity to conduct research this summer was an amazing experience. My research is focused on the analysis of current, available interventions used to help combat the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) in an effort to aid in preventing childhood obesity. Although I have a topic now, my direction of interest was not always as clear. I started this research journey with the idea that childhood obesity is a major problem and SSBs play a large hand in the occurrence of this issue. With this said, I knew that this was too broad of a topic and needed to eventually narrow it down to a specific aspect.
With not knowing the exact direction that I wanted to go in, my professor, Dr. Northrup, really helped guide me in the direction of conducting preliminary research on the topic. I became familiar with the current literature regarding consumption patterns in individuals 1-60 years of age, obesity trends since the late 80s. I also looked into the defining factors of obesity in children and the definition of SSBs. This introductory research helped me a lot in terms of becoming better familiarized with the overarching topic and what information has already been compiled in the available articles. By doing this, I was able to see a pattern of what was available and what would be new to the current literature. This is how Dr. Northrup and I decided to concentrate on creating a review of the existing interventions to reduce SSBs intake in children 2-5 years of age.
I learned a deal about conducting research while participating in this program. Dr. Northrup has guided me and given me so many tools in order to be able to conduct successful research Not only did I learn how to properly search for articles pertaining to my topic, I learned how to read the articles in order to get the most information from them. She introduced me to a program, EndNote, which helps with proper citation generation. This program is extremely beneficial because it helps cut the time of creating citations and references. Another valuable takeaway from this program was the identification of “filler words” in research. By this, I mean including words that do not necessarily need to be included in the paper. If something can be said in a shorter way, it is better, especially in research.
Throughout the entire writing stage, Dr. Northrup gave me a lot of autonomy in writing and constantly encouraged me to type out my thoughts because nothing in research writing is permanent until the work is submitted. There is always room for change, whether it be an addition of an idea or a subtraction of one. Having another person there to make edits to each draft helped even more in the writing process. I will keep all of these things mentioned in mind because they are great habits to practice as a researcher.
I accomplished a lot in my research and I am proud of the work that I have done so far. Not only have I been able to compile the majority of my desired articles, but I also began writing the literature review. Despite the literature review being in the early stage, the direction that it is going is very promising. Yes, the program is over, but my research will not stop here; I will continue and complete the literature review in hopes of using it as my honors thesis and presenting it at a conference in the Spring.
Throughout the month of July, Dr. Northup and I have made tremendous progress in our research. In the last post, we had just begun the quest for articles related to the overarching topic of childhood obesity and SSB consumption. Since then, I am still doing a literature review and we have compiled a solid list of valuable articles. Two major question posed during the project was, “What should the main focus be? What direction do we want to go in, in terms of how to set up the paper?”. We chose to focus on, interventions related to decreasing SSB consumption. We felt this was a relevant topic because, throughout the course of the July, we have read several articles and decided an analysis of the available interventions addressing the success and failure of them was something new to include in the current literature. Once we figured out the direction, we continued working hard to make progress in writing and editing.
What I have read in the literature so far has been quite interesting Things such as the frequency of SSB consumption in individuals 2-5 year of age was unbelievable to me. These drinks contribute to a large portion of the daily caloric intake in these children and are linked to several potential long-term illnesses as they get older. They have no other health benefits aside from providing a source of energy for these kids. I believe this is definitely an important topic to research and gain knowledge about because children do not have a voice for themselves at young ages, so it is vital to do all that one can to provide them with great health.
It is common knowledge that “childhood obesity” is an issue and it has been heavily studied over the years which is great because there has been great progress with the research. But with this said, it was overwhelming seeing the large amount of articles available to use. It was definitely difficult finding the proper articles to use, especially when there was not a specific area of focus. I am grateful to Dr. Northrup who provided me with, as well as helped me locate articles. She has guided me on how to find other articles that best correlated to the topic. I am thrilled that we have gotten the ball rolling and have a direction for the project. I have already begun writing the literature review and there has been great progress on that.
I have learned so much from this project. Before doing this, I had done some research in my courses but never did anything this extensive. I have gotten a feel of how the research process works. Nothing written is ever permanent, there is always something new added or removed. It is also very important to remain organized, especially when looking at as many articles as we have and making sure to have the important ones saved somewhere where they are easily accessible. I have also become more educated on the topics of SSB consumption, obesity in children, and more recently, intervention to intervene in the ingestion of SSBs in children. This project has helped me to develop my research and knowledge on an important issue.
Dr. Northup and I plan on continuing this research into the academic year as there is still much to look at. This project has opened my eyes to a major culprit in the occurrence of obesity in children. I am excited to continue the process.
The focus of my project is centered around the issue of childhood obesity. I have chosen to hone in one specific factor, sugar-sweetened beverage(s) (SSB(s)). The purpose of this project is to conduct a review of the literature regarding SSBs and childhood consumption and use this information to study its relationship. As I conduct this research, I hope to collect a well organized identify common patterns in consumption, consequences related to overconsumption, as well as ways to help combat the issue of SSB consumption in children. I chose this specific subject because although obesity in children has been on a decline, the numbers are relatively still high. I was introduced to this topic by Dr. Northrup and after gaining some insight on it, I felt that it was an interesting and relevant issue that needs more available information.
Within the past month, Dr. Northrup and I have collected and reviewed multiple research articles. I began my search by familiarizing myself with the scope of the problem. Articles evaluated included obesity trends from the past 26 years, beverage consumption patterns from the past 11 years for individuals ages 2-60 years. The effects of SSBs on the health of children, intervention program, and legislation, as well as the incidence of obesity and SSBs ingestion amongst lower income children. In the next month, I plan to refine my research in order to have more specific research question will help to expand my knowledge on that specific area.
The next steps in this project include continuing the search and collection of articles related to my topic via the Pace library database, Google Scholar, etc. I plan to create a more focused library of articles directly related to a particular aspect related to the topic of SSB consumption and childhood obesity. With this said, in the next few weeks I will also begin to formulate my written literature review with my professor. I am currently working on producing the introduction section of my review of the literature collected.