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Cal State Fullerton Receives Nearly $500,000 Through Federal Omnibus Bill

from Dateline (December 16, 2004)
By Valerie Orleans

Congress is awarding Cal State Fullerton nearly half a million dollars to combat childhood obesity and protect the nation’s water supply.

Allocations in the fiscal year 2005 omnibus appropriations bill include $396,680 for the university’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Project and $99,170 to establish a National Center for Water Hazard Mitigation. The federal funds will enable the university to launch a Center for the Prevention of Childhood Obesity and continue research targeted on keeping the nation’s water supply safe from possible acts of terrorism.

The university’s College of Human Development and Community Service will oversee the Center for the Prevention of Childhood Obesity, an interdisciplinary effort to address obesity in children and focus on health promotion.

An estimated 30 percent of Orange County children are over- weight, according to California Department of Education’s Fitnessgram Reports. These reports are based on physical fitness testing for 5th-, 7th- and 9th-graders. Childhood obesity has become so common that the Centers for Disease Control estimate that one in three U.S. children will become diabetic, largely due to obesity and inactivity. The odds for Hispanic children are even higher – closer to one in two children is considered “at risk” for obesity-related health problems.

“A number of our faculty members are working on programs to prevent childhood obesity, and this funding will enable us to present a more unified and comprehensive approach,” said Roberta Rikli, HDCS dean. “We hope to continue to work with our community partners, such as local schools and health programs, so that we can reach even more youngsters who may be at risk of obesity. We also need to work with their parents, as well.”

In the College of Engineer-ing and Computer Science, federal funds will further the research of Prasada Rao, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, who is developing sensors to identify substances placed in the water supply that could harm drinking water.

The 2005 award will constitute the second round of federal funds for Rao’s Water Hazard Mitigation Project, which received $100,000 this spring. The planned National Center for Water Hazard Mitigation is expected to serve as a model for the protection of water supply systems.

“The tragic events of 9/11 made clear the threats faced by water systems that include our water sources and distribution systems,” said Raman Unnikrishnan, ECS dean.

“A presidential decision directive identifies water systems as one of the eight critical infrastructures on which our economy and the well-being of our society is based. Efforts at various levels are now being directed at protecting the water systems from any intentional hazards.”

U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) sponsored the Childhood Obesity Prevention Project initiative, and U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) sponsored the initiative for the National Center for Water Hazard Mitigation. Congress approved the omnibus appropriations bill Nov. 20.

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