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.