Arkansas Children’s Debuts Region’s Only Pediatric Exercise Science LabLITTLE 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."

About Arkansas Children’s

Arkansas Children's, Inc. is the only healthcare system in the state solely dedicated to caring for Arkansas' 710,000 children, giving the organization a unique ability to shape the landscape of pediatric care in Arkansas and transform the health of children throughout the region. The private, non-profit organization includes two pediatric hospitals, a pediatric research institute and USDA nutrition center, a philanthropic foundation, a nursery alliance, statewide clinics, and many education and outreach programs.

Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) is a 336-bed, Magnet-recognized facility in Little Rock operating the state’s only Level I pediatric trauma center; the state's only burn center; the state's only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit; the state's only pediatric intensive care unit; the state’s only pediatric surgery program with Level 1 verification from the American College of Surgeons; and the state's only nationally recognized pediatric transport program. Additionally, ACH is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report in five pediatric subspecialties (2019-2020): Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Orthopedics and Pulmonology. Arkansas Children’s Northwest (ACNW), the first and only pediatric hospital in the Northwest Arkansas region, opened in Springdale in early 2018. ACNW operates a 24-bed inpatient unit; a surgical unit with five operating rooms; outpatient clinics offering over 20 subspecialties; diagnostic services; imaging capabilities; occupational therapy services; and Northwest Arkansas' only pediatric emergency department, equipped with 30 exam rooms. Generous philanthropic and volunteer engagement has sustained Arkansas Children's since it began as an orphanage in 1912, and today ensures the system can fundamentally transform the health of children in Arkansas and beyond. To learn more, visit archildrens.org.

About Arkansas Children’s Research Institute

ACRI is a free-standing state-of-the-art pediatric research center which provides a research environment on the ACH campus to foster research and scholarship of faculty members of University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences who are investigating questions relative to development, disease and treatment as it relates to the health of infants, children and adolescents. Physician and biomedical scientist investigators at ACRI and the Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center (ACNC) conduct clinical, basic science, and health services research for the purpose of treating illnesses and preventing disease and thereby, improving the health of the children of Arkansas and beyond.

About Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center (ACNC)

Arkansas Children's Nutrition Center (ACNC) is a national Human Nutrition Research Center established as a partnership between the Arkansas Children's Hospital (ACH) and the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS). ACNC is a premier research venue for the study of maternal-child health and early childhood development.

###