Jennifer Caldwell

Linking GAINS: Linking Genetics and Improving Nutrition in Scotlandville

Jennifer Caldwell, Ph.D.
Pennington Biomedical Research Center


Linking GAINS is a community-engaged research project focusing on education for African Americans on what their genetic risk means and introducing them to lifestyle changes to improve their health outcomes. This project began as an effort to enhance the monthly marketplaces sponsored by Southern University Agriculture Research and Extension Center (SUAREC). These monthly marketplaces work to provide food and health care resources to eliminate the daily impact of living in a food desert. A food desert is a community with limited resources to fresh produce and markets. The Southern University and communities of North Baton Rouge live in a food desert and experience other environmental limitations. The purpose of this project is to review how educating African Americans on genetics, or family inheritance, and cultural beliefs may reduce their risk of common diseases like cardiovascular disease. Research studies show that poor nutrient intake and dietary patterns contribute to common diseases and health disparities in African Americans, especially those who live in communities with limited resources. To overcome limited resources this study will provide nutritional food and cooking classes, educate participants on healthier lifestyle choices and provide access to primary health care professionals, host physical activity training sessions, and give blood pressure and blood glucose screenings. In addition, participants will learn about the importance of genetic testing for chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes and participate in genetic testing. Participants who join the study will receive cash compensation and a Fitbit physical activity tracking device.


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