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HHP Faculty Collaborate in Project to Improve Public Health in the Third Ward

HHP faculty are taking the lead in a long term effort for preventing and treating obesity, type 2 diabetes and other ailments in Houston's underserved communities. The United Health Foundation has awarded a $2 million, three year grant to Dr. Dan O'Connor and Dr. Ezemenari Obasi (PHLS department at UH), fellows at UH’s recently launched HEALTH Research Institute. The project titled, Community Collaborative for Preventing and Treating Obesity in Underserved Communities In Houston (TOUCH), will focus on the Third Ward in years one and two and expand to the East End in year three.

Dr. O'Connor - HEALTH press conference
Drs. Obasi and O’Connor at a press conference launching the project

Dr. Dan O'Connor and Dr. Ezemenari Obasi are co-principal investigators on the project along with HHP faculty Dr. Marc Hamilton, Dr. Daphne Hernandez, Dr. Tracey Ledoux and Dr. Craig Johnston. Additional UH investigators working on the project include Dr. Reitzel, Dr. Correa, Dr. Fernandez, Dr. Olvera, and Dr. Murillo in the College of Education. The interdisciplinary project involves multiple UH units, includuing the HEALTH Research Institute, Texas Obesity Research Center (TORC), the Department of Psychological Health and Learning Sciences (PHLS), and the Department of Health and Human Performance (HHP).

A Community Collaborative for Preventing and Treating Obesity in Underserved Communities In Houston (TOUCH)

The project will implement the delivery of obesity prevention and treatment interventions to Houston’s underserved Third Ward population by bringing together an integrated network of partners and resources - UH researchers, community-based and faith-based organizations, schools and other educational groups, primary care clinics, local businesses, governmental entities, and both public and private funders.

The total reach of the project’s program over the 3 years will be at least 7,000 individuals in approximately 5,000 families, most of whom will be African-American or Hispanic and with demonstrable socioeconomic stress (e.g., employment and income instability, food insecurity).


Learn more about Dr. O'Connor's research

Visit the Texas Obesity Center website

Visit the UH HEALTH Research Institute website

Visit the United Health Foundation website

UH News

UH News featured the launch of the project in an article titled, "United Health Foundation, University of Houston Join Forces to Improve Public Health"

Below is a excerpt from the article:

“Health and nutrition play a critical role in the development and revitalization of communities,” said Rev. Preston J. Allen, Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church community development executive director. “It’s a matter of education, reorienting and then providing resources for those in the community to use. In this case, with Dr. Khator’s vision and insight, her faculty and staff have been inclusive of the community in an effort to bring the best solution-driven outcomes.”

Read the entire article on the UH News website

FOX News

FOX 26 Houston featured the project in an interview with Dr. Dan O'Connor and Dr. Ezemenari Obasi.

More Media Coverage

UH to launch health program for Third Ward - The Houston Chronicle