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COVID-19 Policies and Childhood Obesity Study

About Us

‌‌The COVID-19 Policies and Childhood Obesity Study is a four year project funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This project works with existing families to learn how COVID-19 policies relate to family routines, children's dietary and physical activity behaviors, and family risk for food insecurity. 

This study extends a rapid-response research project from the Spring of 2020 to examine disparities related to the impact of COVID-19 control policies. The COVID-19 Policies and Childhood Obesity Study will also evaluate the following:

  • The long-term impact of COVID-19 policies on disparities related to children’s health over two years following the start of the pandemic.
  • Measures of obesity and an analysis of projected impact on health care costs.
  • An explanatory mixed methods approach to understand the mechanisms linking COVID-19 policies and health behaviors. 

Specific Aims

  • Examine changes over time in child health behaviors (diet, physical activity, and sleep) and obesity/excess weight gain.
  • Examine the mechanisms explaining observed changes in child health behaviors and obesity/excess weight gain.
  • Determine projected health care costs related to changes in child health behaviors and obesity/excess weight gain due to COVID-19 policies overall and for specific populations, by race/ethnicity, SES, and geographic locale.

Project Coordinator



Rachel Deitch, M.S, CHES
Project Coordinator 

University of Maryland, School of Medicine



The Team

Principal Investigator

Erin Hager, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator 

University of Maryland, School of Medicine


Research Team

Helina Selam, Quantitative Data Manager

Janny Dihn, Qualitative Data Manager

Volunteer & Internship Opportunities

Why Volunteer

Reasons to Volunteer or Intern:

  • Be involved in cutting edge research
  • Strengthen your resume
  • Publication opportunities
  • Improve your interpersonal skills
  • Gain an understanding of how to conduct community research
  • Potentially earn credits for school
  • It's fun!

Volunteer Duties

The types of duties an internship might entail:

  • Recruiting participants
  • Scheduling interviews, making appointments, and contacting participants
  • Helping facilitate parent groups on topics pertaining to nutrition, physical activity, parenting skills, and child safety
  • Conducting participant interviews
  • Collecting data
  • Filing and other office duties
  • Data entry and analysis


If you'd like to apply for an internship or volunteer position, please fill out the volunteer information form and email

If interested internship positions, please send resume or CV to:   

Rachel Deitch
Wellness Champions for Change, Project Coordinator
University of Maryland, School of Medicine
Department of Pediatrics
737 West Lombard Street
Baltimore, MD 21201