My research focuses on identifying successful, efficient, and cost-effective strategies to change the environments in which we live, learn, work, and play so that eating healthfully is easy, accessible, and affordable for everyone. Currently, we face difficult challenges with our food policies and systems that put nutritional health out of reach for many families, especially those who are at risk for food insecurity. There is a critical need for effective approaches that can be taken at a public health level to support healthier eating, remove barriers to good nutrition, and reduce health inequities.
The goal of my research is to support this critical public health need by building evidence at each stage in the development of population-level strategies to support better nutrition for children and families. I focus on: 1) informing strategy development by conducting both public health surveillance and longitudinal studies using epidemiological data to identify potential social and behavioral determinants of poor diet that can be acted upon via intervention; 2) development and evaluation of effective intervention strategies that could be scaled up into larger policy-level interventions, in partnership with local community collaborators who have on-the-ground expertise in how to shape feasible interventions; 3) evaluation of nutrition policies at a population level when those policies are modified to incorporate new nutrition strategies to promote population health; and 4) leveraging implementation science and cost-effectiveness analysis to improve understanding of how to sustainably, effectively, and efficiently implement effective policies and programs.
Most of this work focuses on exploring and increasing the beneficial impact of food assistance programs for children and families, including the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). I focus on diet quality, healthy growth, and food insecurity as key outcomes of interest. Some of my other work focuses on understanding the impact of screen media and digital marketing on children’s and family’s eating behaviors. I also conduct research on weight-related discrimination and stigma, and strategies to ensure that public health efforts to promote healthy eating, physical activity, and healthy development do not have unintended harmful consequences.
ScD, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 2013
MPH, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Yale School of Public Health, 2009
BA, Education Studies, Brown University, 2003