Trained in social epidemiology and planned behavior change, my research focuses on identifying successful, efficient, and cost-effective strategies to modify children’s environments to make the healthiest choice the easiest choice and to help children form healthy habits for life. I do this through conducting both intervention studies and epidemiological studies. My work is grounded in social ecological theory and the investigation of how children’s environments can be feasibly changed to promote healthy eating habits and less screen time. This has resulted in work on developing valid, easy-to-use measures of dietary intake, feeding behaviors, nutrition policies, and the nutrition environment in child care and school settings; conducting and evaluating randomized, controlled trials of school- and afterschool-based interventions; and analyzing national datasets to identify important determinants of nutrition behaviors and obesity risk for children. At the Prevention Research Center, I collaborate with colleagues and community partners to identify and evaluate usable strategies for increasing drinking water access and reducing intake of sugary drinks in school, afterschool, and child care settings. With the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost Effectiveness Study (CHOICES) team, I also study the cost-effectiveness of different policy strategies to prevent childhood obesity in early care and education settings. As a a faculty member with the Strategic Training Initiative for the Prevention of Eating Disorders (STRIPED), I work with STRIPED trainees to investigate a different dimension of childhood obesity – weight-related discrimination and stigma, and how to ensure that public health efforts to promote healthy eating, physical activity, and healthy weight do not have unintended harmful consequences.

Current projects include a natural experimental evaluation of recent changes to the Child and Adult Care Food Program meal patterns in family child care settings; an implementation science investigation into how policies to promote healthy eating in child care settings nationwide are actually translated; a qualitative investigation of weight discrimination in school settings; and developing measures of exposure to food advertising on mobile devices.




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



Andreyeva T, Kenney EL, O’Connell M, Sun X, Henderson KE. Predictors of Nutrition Quality in Early Child Education Settings in Connecticut. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2018 Feb 23

Kenney EL, Wintner S, Lee RM, Austin SB. Obesity Prevention Interventions in US Public Schools: Are Schools Using Programs That Promote Weight Stigma? Prev Chron Dis, 2017 Dec 28;14:E142

Brooks CJ, Gortmaker SL, Long MW, Cradock AL, Kenney EL. Racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in hydration status among U.S. adults from tap water and other beverages. Am J Public Health, 2017 Sep;107(9):1387-1394.

Kenney EL, Lee RM, Brooks CJ, Cradock AL, Gortmaker SL. What do children eat in the summer? A direct observation of summer day camps that serve meals. J Acad Nutr Diet, 2017 Mar 16 [Epub ahead of print].

Kenney EL, Gortmaker SL. U.S. adolescents’ television, computer, videogame, smartphone, and tablet use: associations with sugary drinks, sleep, physical activity, and obesity. J Pediatr. 2016 Dec 9.

Cradock AL, Barrett JL, Kenney EL, Giles CM, Ward ZJ, Long MW, Resch SC, Pipito AA, Wei ER, Gortmaker SL. Using cost-effectiveness analysis to prioritize policy and programmatic approaches to physical activity promotion and obesity prevention in childhood. Prev Med. 2016 Oct 20

Kenney EL, Gortmaker SL, Cohen JFW, Rimm EB, Cradock AL. Limited drinking water access in middle and high schools. J Adolesc Health, 2016 Jul;59(1):24-9.

Kenney EL, Redman M, Criss S, Sonneville KR, Austin SB. Are K-12 school environments harming students with obesity? A qualitative study of classroom teachers. Eat Weight Disord., 2016 Mar 15

Schwartz MB, Henderson KE, Grode G, Hyary M, Kenney EL, O’Connell M, Middleton AE. Comparing Current Practice to Recommendations for the Child and Adult Care Food Program. Child Obes. 2015 Oct;11(5):491-8.

Cradock AL, Kenney EL, McHugh A, Conley L, Mozaffarian RM, Reiner JF, Gortmaker SL. Evaluating the impact of the Healthy Beverage Executive Order for city agencies in Boston, MA, 2011-2013. Prev Chronic Dis. 2015 Sep 10;12:E147.

Kenney EL, Long MW, Cradock AL, Gortmaker SL. Kenney et al. respond. Am J Public Health. 2015 Oct;105(10):e6-7.

Kenney EL, Gortmaker SL, Carter JE, Howe MCW, Reiner JF, Cradock AL. Grab a cup, fill it up! An intervention to promote the convenience of drinking water and increase student water consumption during school lunch. Am J Public Health. 2015 Sep;105(9):1777-83.

Wright DR, Kenney EL, Giles CM, Long MW, Ward ZJ, Resch SC et al. Modeling the cost-effectiveness of childcare policy changes in the United States. Am J Prev Med. 2015 Jul;49(1):135-47.

Kenney EL, Long MW, Cradock AL, Gortmaker SL. Prevalence of inadequate hydration among U.S. children and disparities by gender and race/ethnicity: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2009-2010. Am J Public Health. 2015 Aug;105(8):e113-8.

Kenney EL, Gortmaker SL, Davison KK, Austin SB. The academic penalty for gaining weight: a longitudinal, change-in-change analysis of BMI and perceived academic ability in middle school students. Int J Obes (Lond). 2015 Sep;39(9):1408-13.

Kenney EL, Davison KK, Austin SB, Giles CM, Cradock AL, Lee RM, Gortmaker SL. Validity and Reliability of a Simple, Low-Cost Measure to Quantify Children’s Dietary Intake in Afterschool Settings. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2015 Mar;115(3):426-32

Lee RM, Emmons KM, Okechukwu CA, Barrett JL, Kenney EL, Cradock AL, Giles CM, de Blois ME, Gortmaker SL. Validity of a practitioner-administered observational tool to measure physical activity, nutrition, and screen time in school-age programs. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2014 Nov 28;11(1):145

Kenney EL, Austin SB, Cradock AL, Giles CM, Lee RM, Davison KK, Gortmaker SL. Identifying sources of children’s consumption of junk food in Boston after-school programs, April-May 2011. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014 Nov 20;11:E205

Kenney EL, Giles CM, DeBlois Madeleine E., Gortmaker SL, Chinfatt S, Cradock AC. Improving nutrition and physical activity policies in afterschool programs: results from a group-randomized controlled trial. Prev Med, 2014 Sep;66:159-66.

Giles CM, Kenney EL, Gortmaker SL, Lee RM, Thayer JC, Mont-Ferguson H, Cradock AC. Increasing water availability during afterschool snack: evidence, strategies, and partnerships from a group randomized trial. Am J Prev Med 2012;43(2)(Suppl 2); S136–S142.

Kenney EL, Henderson KE, Humphries D, Schwartz MB. Practice-based research to engage teachers and improve nutrition in the preschool setting. Child Obes 2011; 7(6): 475-479.

Falbe J, Kenney EL, Henderson KE, Schwartz MB. The Wellness Child Care Assessment Tool: a measure to assess the quality of written nutrition and physical activity policies. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Dec;111(12):1852-60.

Henderson KE, Grode GM, Middleton AE, Kenney EL, Falbe J, Schwartz MB. Validity of a measure to assess the child-care nutrition and physical activity environment. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 Sep;111(9):1306-13