Caree J. Cotwright, MS, PhD, RDN

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Foods and Nutrition

Assistant Professor

100B Barrow Hall
115 DW Brooks Dr.
Athens, GA 30602


workOffice Phone: 706-542-3073

Curriculum Vitae

Current Classes

FDNS 4660S (Fall and Spring)

FDNS 6660E (Fall)


Degree Field of Study Institution Graduation
PhD Nutrition-Community Nutrition University of Georgia 2008
MS Nutrition University of Georgia 2004
BS Biology Howard University 1999


Childhood Obesity Prevention in schools and child care settings, Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policy, Theater Based Nutrition Intervention

My research agenda focuses on promoting wellness best practices and policies in the ECE setting. The aim of my work is to: 1) assess current wellness practices in the ECE setting; 2) create training and interventions for child care providers and child care food service staff to increase healthy eating, wellness education, and physical activity in the ECE setting; and 3) assist ECE settings with creating wellness policies and plans of action to sustain changes long term. The overall goal of my work is to create healthy ECE environments to prevent obesity in our youngest children ages (0-5), while working to decrease health disparities among low-income and minority populations. For more information, visit the Childhood Obesity/Nutrition Intervention Laboratory.

Current Research

Healthy Child Care Georgia

Healthy Child Care Georgia (HCCG) is a pilot study supported by the USDA SNAP-Ed Program. HCCG tested the feasibility of using policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) approaches combined with direct classroom education for obesity prevention in the child care setting.  While PSE approaches have delivered promising results in the child care setting, limited studies have combined both PSE approaches and with direct classroom education to promote change for obesity prevention.  The HCCG study has four specific aims:  1) Increase ECE providers’ knowledge of wellness best practices for obesity prevention in early childhood; 2) Assess current status of wellness best practice implementation of ECE programs; 3) Create an action plan for the adoption at least one new wellness best practice in ECE program; and 4) Implement a six week intervention, Eat Healthy Be Active, to increase the quality and quantity of nutrition and physical activity education for children in ECE programs. Implementation of these policies and best practices in each ECE program has the potential to affect hundreds of SNAP-Ed eligible parents and their children.

Results from our formative work showed improvements in the implementation of nutrition and physical activity policies for participating child care programs as well as increased teacher knowledge and confidence and increased nutrition education in child care classrooms.  The combined approached proved to be feasible and was well received by participants.  Researchers are currently implementing HCCG with Head Start and Pre-Kindergarten classrooms in Athens-Clarke County, GA.

Freggie’s Green Machine

Young children have low fruit and vegetable intakes and are not meeting national recommendations for daily physical activity.  Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption is a viable strategy to prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and stroke.  One way to encourage higher intakes of fruits and vegetables among young children is via entertainment education.  Entertainment education is the intentional placement of educational messages in an entertainment format (i.e. songs, puppet shows, games).  Limited research has examined the use of entertainment education to increase fruit and vegetable consumption among preschool children. Even fewer studies have focused on using entertainment education to teach health messages to low-income children preschool children.  Freggie's Green Machine is a nutrition education intervention for preschool children.  The overall goal of this study is to assess the effectiveness of using an entertainment education nutrition intervention to improve fruit and vegetables consumption among low income preschool children. Researchers are currently implementing Freggie's Green Machine with Head Start centers in Walton County and Madison County, GA.


Food and Nutrition Education Methods (on campus and E course)


UGA Service Learning Fellow 2014- 2015

Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Service Learning Project conducted and awarded $2500

Areas of Expertise

  • Early Childhood Obesity Prevention
  • Entertainment Education
  • Health Disparities
  • Training and Technical Assistance
  • Nutrition & Public Health Policy
  • Culturally Appropriate Intervention Design
  • Community Based Participatory Research
  • Curriculum Development & Instruction

Prior Professional Positions

Organization / Department Title Years of Service
Dr. Cotwright previously worked as an ORISE Research Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity. During this time she was engaged in the dissemination of national policy and environmental change approaches for obesity prevention in the early care and education setting. In this capacity she also worked specifically on promoting, First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! Child Care initiative for child care providers. CDC Research Fellow 3
Kellogg Health Scholars Postdoctoral Program, Community Based Participatory Research, Morgan State University School of Community Health and Policy, Baltimore, MD Postdoctoral Fellow 2


Award Name Awarded By Year Awarded
WIlliam Dietz Nutrition Award Nominee CDC 2015
Diverse Magazine Emerging Scholars Award Nominee Diverse Issues in Higher Education 2014
UGA Top 40 Under 40 Award UGA Alumni Association 2012
UGA FACS Pacesetter Award UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences 2012

Journal Articles

  • Cotwright, C.J., Bales, D. W., Lee, J., Celestin, N., Parrott, K., Olubajo, B., (n.d.). Like Peas and Carrots: Combining Wellness Policy Implementation with Classroom Education for Obesity Prevention in the Child Care Setting. Public Health Reports-Georgia Childhood Obesity Supplement (Submitted).
  • Barr-Anderson, DJ, Singleton, C, Cotwright, CJ, Floyd, MF, Affuso, O. Outside-of-School Time Obesity Prevention and Treatment Interventions in African American Youth. Obesity Reviews. 15 S4 (2014): 26-45.
  • Reynolds, M, Cotwright, CJ, Polhamus, B, Chang, D, Gertel-Rosenberg, AS. Obesity Prevention in the Early Care and Education Setting: Successful Initiatives Across a Spectrum of Opportunities. Journal of Law Medicine & Ethics Supplement. 41.4 (2013): 8-18.
  • Jackson, CJ, Mullis, RM, and Hughes, M. Development of a Theater-Based Nutrition and Physical Activity Intervention for Low-Income, Urban, African American Adolescents. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action 4.2 (2010): 89-98.
  • Caree Jackson and Chandra Jackson. "Podcast Interview Transcript." Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action 4.2 (2010): 99-104.


Organization Title Year(s) Service Type
Georgia Regents University/UGA Medical Scholars Program Research Mentor 2016
Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO) Research Mentor 2014-Present
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research ECE Research to Practice Workgroup Member 2013-Present
Georgia SHAPE Initiative Evaluation Team Member 2014-Present


Government Publications

  • Centers for Disease Control Prevention. (2014). Increasing Access to Drinking Water and Other Healthier Beverages in Early Care and Education Settings. Atlanta, GA:  US Department of Health and Human Services.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2013). Addressing Childhood Obesity in the Early Care and Education Setting: A Guide for Action. (2013-Task Order 200-2007-20009/003). Atlanta, Georgia.
  • United States Department of Agriculture. (2013). Nutrition and Wellness Tips for Young Children: Provider Handbook for the Child and Adult Care Food Program: Screen Time. Washington, DC.
  • Centers for Disease Control Prevention. (2010-2013). (Primary Author: Jackson, CJ.) Early Care and Education News Blast, Monthly Newsletter. Atlanta, Georgia.

Speaking Engagements and Community Events

TEDxUGA Illuminate 2016 Featured Speaker: