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Public Health Professor Helps Pima County Get $15.7M to Fight Obesity

Merrill Eisenberg
Merrill Eisenberg, Ph.D.

The Pima County Health Department was awarded $15.7 million from the federal government to combat obesity with the help of Public Health Professor Merrill Eisenberg at the University of Arizona. Pima County was the only community in Arizona to receive the federal “Communities Putting Prevention to Work” grant in March of this year. The grant is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. 

Eisenberg is an assistant professor in the community, environment and policy division of the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health. Working with Activate Tucson, a local coalition of organizations and individuals concerned with obesity prevention, she designed a plan to create policy, systems, and environmental changes that will remove barriers for Pima County residents to exercise and eat healthier and wrote the winning grant proposal for the Pima County Health Department. 

Activate Tucson member organizations, including the YMCA, United Way, PRONeighborhoods, the Community Food Bank and Carondelet Health Network, will receive funding to conduct activities in child care settings, neighborhoods, worksites, and health care, social service, and faith-based settings.

The Zuckerman College of Public Health will receive part of the grant money to support the public policy and evaluation components of the program. Eisenberg will lead the Policy team, and Maia Ingram, MPH, and Rebecca Drummond will co-lead the evaluation team.

Additionally, University entities that will be supported include the College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture’s Drachman Institute, which will lead the effort to address environment issues under the direction of Katie Gannon, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Nutritional Sciences Department, which will lead the school based activities under the direction of Dr. Scott Going. 

The University of Arizona