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Dr. Robin Shook Receives CDC Funding to Improve Health and Prevent Chronic Disease in Kansas City


Dr. Robin Shook Receives CDC Funding to Improve Health and Prevent Chronic Disease in Kansas City

Headshot of Robin Shook, PhD
Robin Shook, PhD
Director, Kansas City Healthy Lifestyles Collaborative; Director, Translational Energy Balance Research Laboratory; Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine; Research Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Kansas School of Medicine
Full Biography

Robin Shook, PhD, Director of the Kansas City Healthy Lifestyles Collaborative and Director of the Translational Energy Balance Lab, Department of Pediatrics/Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition, received $305,123 as part of an award with the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The award is for the first year in the five-year Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program. UMKC received a total of $719,008 from the CDC for the first year of the grant.

Dr. Shook is co-principal investigator on the project “Communities leading change: Advancing Black and Latino capacity to create nutrition and physical activity environmental and system change.” Co-investigators at Children’s Mercy include Sarah Hampl, MD, and Helena Laroche, MD, Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition, and Meredith Dreyer Gillette, PhD, Developmental and Behavioral Health. Additional principal investigators at UMKC are Amanda Grimes, PhD and Joey Lightner, PhD. Kelsey Gardiner, PhD from UMKC is an additional co-investigator. 

The REACH funding will help Dr. Shook improve health, prevent chronic diseases, and reduce health disparities among Latino and Black communities in the Kansas City metro area, which is the fifth most economically and racially segregated city in the United States. This segregation has resulted in an 18-year life expectancy gap between both Black and Latino individuals compared to White individuals from Kansas City, Mo. 

Kansas City’s segregation stems from the practice of redlining, which resulted in divestment to communities on the city’s east side. This has led to a lack of access to healthy food and has created unfavorable environments for physical activity. As a result, these residents, who are primarily Black or Latino, are disproportionately burdened by chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Additionally, they often do not have sufficient access to healthcare. Youth in Kansas City are particularly vulnerable to lifelong chronic disease if nothing is done to increase physical activity, improve nutrition, and expand access to healthcare services. 

The Kansas City Healthy Lifestyles Collaborative, a Children’s Mercy program located in the Department of Pediatrics/Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles and Nutrition, will serve as the community coalition that will inform these community efforts. The KC Healthy Lifestyle Collaborative seeks to align efforts of community organizations working to improve healthy lifestyles for the prevention of chronic diseases in our region. 

“As a coalition of over 1,000 community members, the Kansas City Healthy Lifestyles Collaborative is well-positioned to organize collaborative efforts in the community,” said Dr. Shook. “With funding from the CDC REACH mechanism, we will be able to partner directly with community organizations and the residents they serve to address barriers around physical activity, healthy eating, and healthcare access in Kansas City’s east side.”

Dr. Shook will work with partners and local coalitions to enhance existing resources, address Kansas City’s health needs, and reduce health disparities. The strategies include:

  1. In partnership with BikeWalkKC, create new policies and community design improvements to increase access to physical activity.
  2. Increase access to healthy foods by expanding SNAP and Double Up Food Bucks retailers and increasing enrollment rates in those programs through work with KC Healthy Kids, Kanbe’s Market, Mid-America Regional Council, University Health, and University of Missouri Extension.
  3. Increase supports for patients through expansion of family-based healthy weight plan services at both Children’s Mercy and Swope Health. 

Including Dr. Shook’s award, REACH funding was awarded to 50 organizations in 41 communities throughout the United States.

The contents are those of the investigator and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by NIH, or the U.S. Government