Development of a Smartphone Intervention Targeting Healthy Food-Related Budgeting, Purchasing, and Routines to Address Obesity in Early Childhood

This is an ongoing project.

Faculty Researcher: Elizabeth Towner

Contact Details

Kristine Durkin


Just-In-Time Adaptive Interventions (JITAIs) are an innovative approach to behavioral treatment development where intervention strategies are offered in real-time and adapt based upon a patient’s momentary needs and treatment progress. The Alcohol-Comprehensive Health Enhancement Support System (A-CHESS) is an example of a SMARTPHONE JITAI with preliminary efficacy in alcohol abuse relapse prevention. Components of A-CHESS (social support, virtual counseling, education and training, location tracking, assessments, and alerts) may facilitate mastery of the time management and food budgeting skills our formative work suggests are necessary for caregivers of obese (OB) preschoolers from low-income backgrounds to translate dietary recommendations for treatment of pediatric obesity into practice while simultaneously minimizing logistical barriers to intervention participation. The proposed study will use a human-centered approach to collect data on food-related budgeting, purchasing, and routines in efforts to adapt A-CHESS to target these domains in caregivers of OB preschoolers from low-income backgrounds. Thirty caregivers 15 with OB and 15 with NOW preschoolers) receiving services at Detroit-based Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) clinics will be recruited for this study. The study aims are 1) explore the relationship between food budgeting, purchasing, and preschooler BMI, 2) identify food-related routines differentiating caregivers of OB and NOW preschoolers, and 3) adapt A-CHESS to target healthy food-related budgeting, purchasing, and routines in caregivers of OB preschoolers from low-income backgrounds. A mixed-methodology data collection approach (questionnaire, experimentation, food receipt collection, ecological momentary assessment, and focus groups) will be employed to evaluate the specific aims.


Previous research experience is desirable, but not necessary (training will be provided). Junior or senior status with a GPA of 3.5 is preferred, but other outstanding candidates will be considered.

Must be available for a minimum of 6 hours each week. 2 semester commitment preferred.

Project Timeline

The project is currently in the data collection phase. We anticipate data collection will be completed by 3/1/16 at latest and data analysis by 6/1/16.


Data-entry, assistance with preparation of data collection and IRB materials, and other research-related tasks. Additional experiences are available pending research experience, interests, and availability. Volunteers are encouraged to attend project lab meetings pending fit with schedule.

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Last Updated

September 17, 2015