Howell's Community Engagement Initiative focuses on weight gain prevention and meditation

Jessica Hawks, doctoral candidate and Dr. Hala Madanat


The Howell's CEI holds more than "Fresh 15"... mentoring and leadership skills in a real-world setting are included! 

Dr. Hala Madanat presented the results of Howell's CEI research grant focused on preventing gain weight in women starting college -- also known as 'freshman 15' -- at our last luncheon in November.

But it wasn't only about the ways to prevent weight gain, it was also about providing and being able to train researchers in a 'real world' setting; including an in-depth understanding on leadership and mentorship for the researchers involved.  The project included 3 undergraduate students, 4 master's degree students, and one doctoral student.

The study was divided into 2 arms; one included coaching and nutrition; the other without any kind of intervention at all.  The study would take place during a 12-week period; and participants were tested to identify the markers at the beginning at at the end of the study.  No surprises, really.  Turns out the coached group showed no additional weight gain, reported less stress, and their cholesterol levels where pretty much the same.

Her conclusion?  By establishing proper eating habits and teaching young women the value of nutrition, young women can identify destructive patterns, such as eating due to stress, or eating based on social, environmental or emotional cues.

Dr. Hala Madanat is an associate professor of health promotion at San Diego State University. She is a medical sociologist with a strong interest in the role of culture, traditions, and western influence on health. Her research focuses on the impact of westernization on diet and nutrition, with an emphasis on US immigrant populations. She is currently working on developing nutrition education programs for US immigrant populations in San Diego, especially with those from the Middle East.

As SDPRC’s Deputy Director, Dr. Madanat is involved in developing and giving trainings to public health professionals both locally and across California. She also leads the organization and development of the annual training conference for community health workers/promotoras, community organization staff, and academics on obesity prevention in Latino communities.

The "fresh 15" are no more! The Student Health Services Program at SDSU is asking that this project become an established program that continues to train incoming freshmen women howto stay healthy trough nutrition.

Not only did attendees to our November Luncheon learn about the results of last year's CEI Grant, but had an opportunity to meet this year's recipient and a little of the work she will be focusing on.  



Meet Dr. Mary Barger, this year's Howell CEI recipient. She will be working with underserved women and meditation techniques to reduce stress with her research project title "Reducing Insomnia in Homeless Women with the Mantram Repetition Program"

The fastest-growing segment of the homeless population are women, and families headed by women. The Mantram Repetition Program (MantramRP), a portable meditation-based program, teaches the frequent, silent, intermittent repetition of a self-selected word. The portability of the MantramRP allows women to use the intervention anywhere and anytime. Improving insomnia and physiological and psychological stress symptoms could improve overall health, potentially lowering use of costly care. The ease of teaching the intervention allow for its incorporation into existing homeless program nationally.

Dr. Barger has an extensive career in women's health.  From USD's website, Mary Barger is an Associate Professor of Nursing in the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science. She completed her doctoral education in epidemiology from Boston University’s School of Public Health. Her focus is perinatal epidemiology and she completed her dissertation on cesarean births and their complications on mothers and their infants. She received her Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in maternal and child health and nurse-midwifery and her Bachelor of Science in nursing from Stanford University.

Dr. Barger has been the Director of two nurse-midwifery education programs: the UCSF/UCSD Intercampus Graduate Studies Program and the Boston University Nurse-Midwifery Program. In these positions, she has educated nurse-midwives, nurse practitioners, medical students, and residents. During her teaching career, she has practiced full scope clinical nurse-midwifery. In addition to teaching nurse-midwifery students at Boston University, she also taught maternal and child health and community needs assessment to public health students.  Most recently, she taught quantitative research methods to doctoral nursing students and midwifery coursework to masters nursing students at the University of California Sana Francisco.

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About the Doris A. Howell Foundation: 
The Doris A. Howell Foundation for Women’s Health Research is committed to keeping the women we love healthy, advancing women’s health through research and educating women to be catalysts for improving family health in the community.

The organization does so by funding scholarships to students researching issues affecting women’s health; providing a forum for medical experts, scientists, doctors, and researchers to convey timely information on topics relevant to women’s health and the health of their families through its Lecture and Evening Series, and by funding research initiatives that improve the health of under-served women and increase awareness and advocacy in the community. 

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