Kirsten Davison

Adjunct Professor of Nutrition and Social and Behavioral Sciences

Department of Nutrition

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Building 2, Room 331
655 Huntington Avenue
Boston, Massachusetts 02115

Abbreviated Curriculum Vitae


B.A. (Hons, Psychology), 1994, Otago University, New Zealand
M.S. (Human Development and Family Studies), 1997, The Pennsylvania State University
Ph.D. (Human Development and Family Studies), 2001, The Pennsylvania State University

Research Interests

  • Families and child health, with a particular focus on obesity
  • Family-centered interventions for obesity prevention
  • Parenting effects on youth physical activity and screen-based behaviors
  • Development and application of conceptual models for obesity prevention
  • Program evaluation; longitudinal research designs

My research primarily focuses on family- and community-level factors that influence children’s lifestyle behaviors (diet, physical activity, screen-based activities) and risk of obesity.  Key topics that I have researched to date include familial clustering of risk behaviors linked with accelerated weight gain in children, psychosocial consequences of obesity in children, parenting strategies that promote active lifestyles in children, and developmental and contextual factors that explain declines in adolescent girls’ physical activity.  More recently, my work has focused on the development and evaluation of family-centered interventions for obesity prevention in low-income children, including children enrolled in WIC and Head Start. A primary emphasis of these programs is the need to consider the family unit as a whole and address factors beyond the family (e.g., community resources, media factors) that impact on intrafamilial interactions around healthy lifestyles.

A secondary focus of my work is the development and application of conceptual models that foster a stronger understanding of the contextual, developmental and behavioral origins of obesity in children and adolescents.  Examples include the Ecological Model of Childhood Obesity (Davison & Birch 2001), the Family Ecological Model (Davison & Campell, 2005) and the Family Action-based Model of Intervention Layout and Implementation (FAMILI)) (Davison, Lawson, & Coatsworth, in press).