By Melina Bourdeau
Administrators sponsored an opening for the Framingham State Food Study (FS2) house to show the community the facilities that will be used for testing participants and following the progress of the study during this academic year.
In conjunction with the Boston Children’s hospital, the Framingham State Food study is a nutrition program designed to understand weight loss, weight maintenance and healthy eating habits. The house is located on Salem End Road.
President F. Javier Cevallos and Dr. Cara Ebbeling of the Boston Children’s Hospital spoke at the open house, highlighting the importance of having a center for the study. Ebbeling and Dr. David Ludwig, also of Boston Children’s, are principal investigators for the food study. Ebbeling stated in her opening remarks that they the program has “generous and unprecedented funding to do a state-of-the-art study that will provide high-quality data regarding diets for maintaining weight loss.”
Students are provided with weighed meals, which are measured before they receive them, even over Thanksgiving, winter and spring breaks. They are not allowed to consume alcohol or eat any other food outside of the program. If participants get hungry between meals, they are allotted a Balance bar, which then has to be reported to researchers in order to receive another one.
Cevallos said, “In the case of scientific research, investigators need laboratory space that suits the needs of the project. The house is the appropriate setting for the FS2 study. It offers space for researchers to work, and privacy for the participants in the numerous phases of the project.”
Dr. Pat Luoto, study director, enthusiastically showed members of the campus community around the house and answered questions about the study by members of the communities.
Funders Mark Friedman from the Nutrition Science Initiative and Bob Kaplan from the Corkin
Foundation were present at the open house as well. Kaplan said the study’s importance is “researching to find out what we need to eat in order to be healthy, and this study will get us closer to answering that question. On a personal level, it is great to see progress being made.”
Students, faculty and staff are participating in the program, using the house for their scheduled calories-at-rest tests. Blood and urine will also be collected at the house. Blood tests occur in a heated box where participants drink a glucose drink then see the effect that the heat has on their bodies.
Emily Caplan, one of the researchers from Boston Children’s Hospital, explained how the program is organized. The participants were evaluated before they began the program and ten weeks later they will come back to get measured once more.
After the ten weeks, if the participants lose ten percent of their body fat, they can continue with one of three randomly assigned diets, ranging from high-carb to low-carb. There are four assessment periods. “It’s important for people on campus to see how the program works and where it is happening,” Caplan explained. “We are doing another cohort next year, so ask the participants about how it’s going.”
Cavellos added that although faculty are the catalyst for research on campus, “We certainly look forward to supporting future projects as they develop.”