LSU School of Kinesiology’s Senlin Chen Receives NIH Grant to Prevent Adolescent Obesity

February 16, 2024

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Dr. Senlin Chen is a Helen “Bessie” Silverberg Pliner Professor in the School of Kinesiology (SOK). Dr. Chen’s research is focused on physical education curriculum intervention; youth physical activity, fitness, and health promotion; achievement motivation in physical activity settings; and behavioral and social determinants of health. Dr. Chen’s research has been funded by National Institutes of Health (NIH), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), Louisiana Department of Health (LDH), Louisiana Board of Regents, Society of Health and Physical Educators (SHAPE), and many other sources (> $4.5million dollars). Dr. Chen’s research findings have been disseminated in numerous scholarly journals and conferences.

Louisiana faces a significant challenge with childhood obesity, ranking among the highest in the country [1], leading to severe health issues in children. LSU Kinesiology Professor Senlin Chen, PhD, and his team have secured a National Institutes of Health (NIH) R15 grant from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The three-year, $450,000 project, named ProudMe (Preventing Obesity Using Digital-assisted Movement and Eating), aims to implement a novel obesity prevention intervention in Louisiana schools. This important research directly supports LSU’s Scholarship First agenda, particularly in biomedical research and discovery, and ensures LSU is meeting “the challenge of improving the state’s health outcomes head-on.” [2] 

“We are thrilled to demonstrate continued success in receiving external grants, especially those from federal agencies such as the NIH,” states Chen, Helen "Bessie" Silverberg Pliner Professor of Behavioral, Psychological, and Pedagogical Sciences (BPPS) at the LSU School of Kinesiology. "This funding will generate important research findings for our team to achieve national competitiveness and lead to more impactful discovery and scholarship in kinesiology, human sciences, and public health.” 

Building on Chen's previous NIH R21 project, SWITCH-MS, and his ongoing Louisiana Board of Regents Research Competitiveness Subprogram (RCS), ProudMe represents a significant step forward in adolescent obesity prevention. The foundational work of SWITCH-MS provided valuable insights, laying the groundwork for an ecological, multi-level, multi-component approach offered within schools that propels the ProudMe project. The new grant will also support the creation of research training opportunities for more than a dozen undergraduate and graduate students to contribute to the project.

Chen’s ProudMe intervention is poised to make a substantial impact on the health of Louisiana's adolescents, aiming to improve the state’s healthcare ranking, currently at 45 out of 50. [3] The program will undergo two assessments: Aim 1 will evaluate its effectiveness in improving adolescents' obesity-prevention behaviors and weight status, while Aim 2 will assess implementation outcomes. The 12-week intervention of Aim 1 integrates daily experiences in virtual and real life to influence obesity-prevention behaviors, including physical activity, diet, screen time, and sleep. The intervention encompasses three key components: ProudMe Tech, ProudMe PE, and ProudMe Cafeteria. The participants, at the school level, will be cluster-randomized to the ProudMe vs. ProudMe waitlist groups. Through exposure to the intervention, participants will acquire important knowledge, skill, and disposition needed for active and healthy living, improving weight status and reducing the obesity risk.

The grant will benefit hundreds of Louisiana children, their families, and their schools, advancing knowledge and informing policy-making on adolescent obesity prevention. Success in the project will strengthen LSU's research environment and offer unique opportunities for student researchers preparing for biomedical and health fields. Chen's collaborative and multi-disciplinary research team includes Dr. Beibei Guo (LSU Department of Experimental Statistics), Dr. Amanda E. Staiano and her lab at Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Dr. Xin (Shane) Li and his lab at Texas A&M University, and Dr. Richard Rosenkranz at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

 “This research study is the innovative approach we need to get kids on a healthier track. We're creating a new program that combines virtual pets and coaches with the best science in how to get kids to eat healthier and move more,” elaborates Staiano. “We're designing this tool and testing it out right here in Baton Rouge schools. What we learn from our local kids in this study will help improve children's health in schools across the country.” 

Students interested in gaining research training opportunities through the study can submit their resume/CV and a brief statement of application to The project, initiated in April 2023, is scheduled for completion in 2026.

About SOK 

The LSU School of Kinesiology (SOK) advances the understanding of physical activity, sport, and health to optimize the quality of life for diverse populations through excellence in teaching, learning, discovery, and engagement. SOK offers a BS, MS, Online MS, PhD, and two certificate options. Graduates go on to successful careers in the health and fitness industry, corporate wellness, sport agencies and businesses, athletic administration, and K-12 educational settings. SOK is part of the College of Human Sciences & Education. Visit the School of Kinesiology at 

About CHSE 

The College of Human Sciences & Education (CHSE) is a nationally accredited division of Louisiana State University. The college is comprised of the School of Education, the School of Kinesiology, the School of Leadership & Human Resource Development, the School of Information Studies, the School of Social Work, and the University Laboratory School. These combined schools offer 8 undergraduate degree programs, 18 graduate programs, and 7 online graduate degree and/or certificate programs, enrolling more than 1,900 undergraduate and 1,120 graduate students. The College is committed to achieving the highest standards in teaching, research, and service and is committed to improving quality of life across the lifespan. Visit the College of Human Sciences & Education at

About the Pennington Biomedical Research Center

The Pennington Biomedical Research Center is at the forefront of medical discovery as it relates to understanding the triggers of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and dementia. The Center conducts basic, clinical, and population research, and is affiliated with LSU. The research enterprise at Pennington Biomedical includes over 480 employees within a network of 40 clinics and research laboratories, and 13 highly specialized core service facilities. Its scientists and physician/scientists are supported by research trainees, lab technicians, nurses, dietitians, and other support personnel. Pennington Biomedical a state-of-the-art research facility on a 222-acre campus in Baton Rouge. For more information, see

Pennington Biomedical Research Center
6400 Perkins Road
Baton Rouge, LA 70808