Arkansas Children’s Debuts Region’s Only Pediatric Exercise Science Lab


LITTLE ROCK, AR. (Oct. 10, 2017) – A unique child-focused exercise lab unveiled today at the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center (ACNC) will help its world-renowned scientists learn more about preventing disease in families around the globe.

The Laboratory for Active Kids & Families is only the second of its kind in the nation, housed at ACNC on the Arkansas Children's campus. Researchers will use the facility to better understand the science of exercise and the mechanisms by which physical activity promotes health, by observing children and pregnant mothers in fitness and physiology tests.

"We know that nearly 35 percent of all adults and 17 percent of all children in the U.S. are obese, and the rates are higher here in Arkansas," said Sean Adams, PhD, director of the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center and UAMS Professor of Pediatrics. "The discoveries that spring from this unique lab will position us to support science-based efforts to combat obesity and the diseases stemming from sedentary behavior."

For nearly a quarter of a century, Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center has studied how to keep children healthy, yielding discoveries on how breast milk benefits newborns' brains and related to how maternal obesity can promote overweight in children.

"Each child represents 100 percent of the future of our state," said Arkansas Children's Senior Vice President & Chief Research Officer Gregory Kearns, PharmD, PhD, FCP, FAAP, who also serves as president of the Arkansas Children's Research Institute (ACRI). "ACNC's next chapter in studying the science of fitness speaks directly to the institutional mission of keeping children healthier tomorrow.  In addition to our newly NIH-funded obesity prevention program, this unique laboratory will make a real mark in attacking pediatric obesity in Arkansas in a measurable and definite way."

The United States Department of Agriculture-Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS) recently awarded ACNC $7.3 million in annual appropriations, which covers operations for the center, including the creation of the new exercise physiology lab.

The goal of the 65-plus faculty, staff, students and post-doctoral fellows at ACNC is to conduct cutting-edge research to understand how maternal-child health nutrition and physical activity optimize health and development.

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin were on hand for the unveiling of the lab, which aligns with the governor's Healthy Active Arkansas plan to emphasize physical activity by examining how children live, learn and play.

"When we hear the treadmills whirring and kids jumping, we'll know that's the sound of science right here in the Laboratory for Active Kids & Families," Adams said. "We're proud to be part of a grander mission at Arkansas Children’s that focuses on the health side of the coin for kids."

Arkansas Children’s, Inc. is the only health system in the state solely dedicated to caring for children, which allows the organization to uniquely shape the landscape of pediatric care in Arkansas. The system includes a 336-bed hospital in Little Rock with the state’s only pediatric Level 1 trauma center, burn center, Level 4 neonatal intensive care and pediatric intensive care, and research institute as well as a nationally recognized transport service. It is nationally ranked by U.S. News World & Report in pediatric cardiology and heart surgery, neonatology, pulmonology and urology. A sister campus is under development in Northwest Arkansas and will bring 233,613 square feet of inpatient beds, emergency care, clinic rooms and diagnostic services to children in that corner of the state. Arkansas Children’s also blankets the state with outreach programs that include telemedicine, mobile health, and school-based health solutions. A private not-for-profit, Arkansas Children’s boasts an internationally renowned reputation for medical breakthroughs and intensive treatments, unique surgical procedures and forward-thinking research and is committed to providing every child with access to the best care available, regardless of location or resources. Founded as an orphanage, Arkansas Children’s has championed children by making them better today and healthier tomorrow for more than 100 years. For more info, visit 
ACRI is a free-standing state-of-the-art pediatric research facility which provides a specialized environment on the Arkansas Children’s   campus to foster research and scholarship of faculty members of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and members of the Arkansas Children’s staff who are investigating questions relative to the intersection of development and disease as it relates to the health of infants, children and adolescents. Physician and biomedical scientist investigators across the Arkansas Children’s Research Enterprise conduct clinical, basic science, and health services research for the purpose of discovering, developing and evaluating interventions focused on improving the health of the children of Arkansas and beyond. 


Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center (ACNC) is a national Human Nutrition Research Center established through a cooperative agreement between ACRI and the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS).  ACNC is a premier research venue for the study of how nutrition impacts maternal-child health and early childhood development. 

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