Sofiya Alhassan

In Funded Scholars
Sofiya Alhassan
Sofiya Alhassan

Sofiya

Alhassan

PhD

Assistant Professor
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Professional Bio

Sofiya Alhassan, Ph.D., is an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She completed her doctoral training at Auburn University in the area of kinesiology and her postdoctoral training at Stanford University School of Medicine in cardiovascular disease prevention with an emphasize in community-base pediatric obesity prevention.

Her research interest is in the area of physical activity in the prevention of pediatric obesity. In particular, she is interested in the utilization of community family-based physical activity interventions to reduce early onset cardiovascular disease risk factors in ethnic-minority children. Her research agenda also includes examining: 1) environmental and media influence on various health behaviors in ethnic-minority populations; and 2) the interrelationship between physical activity and nutrition in preschool-age children.

Dr. Alhassan has extensive research experience in the area of community-based physical activity interventions and assessment in children and adolescents. Some of her past research studies involved testing a policy-base physical activity intervention in Latino preschool-age children. Dr. Alhassan is currently conducting a study designed to examine the efficacy of a classroom teacher-taught, skill-base physical activity program for increasing total daily physical activity of preschool-age children.

Project Description

Currently, preschoolers spend on average 27 – 40 percent of their outdoor play time engaged in moderate to vigorous physical activity, which is far below the current recommendation. It is believed that more supervision and organized/structured activities during activity periods could lead to children being more physical active.

Preschool-age children need specific and systemic opportunities to learn fundamental physical skills that will help them develop and sustain physical activity throughout their life span. Therefore, a developmentally appropriate physical activity program needs to have specific instruction and activities that are designed to teach basic skill themes and movement concepts that are later modified into the more specialized patterns on which activities of increasing complexity are built.

These fundamental skills and movement concepts are generally taught by trained physical education teachers. However, most preschool centers/classrooms are not equipped with trained physical education teachers. Therefore, getting children to learn these skills or be physically active is the responsibility of the classroom teachers. The study examines if preschool teachers can be trained to teach children physical activity skills to allow them to engage in developmentally appropriate moderate to vigorous physical activity games during outdoor playtime.

Research Interests

I am interested in physical activity in the prevention of pediatric obesity. In particular, I am interested in the utilization of community family-based physical activity interventions to reduce early onset cardiovascular disease risk factors in ethnic-minority children. My research agenda also includes examining: 1) the interrelationship between physical activity and nutrition in preschool-age children; and 2) environmental and media influence on various health behaviors in ethnic-minority populations.

The Details
  • New Connections Status: Junior Investigator
  • Award Year: 2009
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Childhood Obesity
  • Project Name: The Effects of a Structured Skill Based Physical Activity Program in Preschool-Age Children.Preschool-age children need specific and systemic opportunities to learn fundamental physical skills that will help them develop and sustain physical activity throughout their life span. These fundamental skills and movement concepts are generally taught by trained physical education teachers. Dr. Sofiya Alhassan’s New Connections project examines if preschool teachers can be trained to teach children physical activity skills to allow the children to engage in developmentally appropriate moderate to vigorous physical activity games during outdoor playtime.

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