100B Barrow Hall
115 DW Brooks Dr.
Athens, GA 30602
workOffice Phone: 706-542-3073
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|
|Dietetic Internship||Nutrition||University of Georgia||2004|
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.
Georgia Child Care Wellness Study: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Healthy Eating Research Round 10
Childhood obesity increases risk for the development of chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and in adulthood. Children develop healthy habits early in life, making early intervention extremely important. Sixty percent of American children are in some form of child care each week. As the ECE setting is particularly suited to advance obesity prevention efforts for young children, improving policy and best practice implementation to reduce rates of childhood obesity is a high priority. Increasing access to water and other healthy beverages and reducing consumption of SSBs are viable strategies to prevent childhood obesity. Nationally, low income, minority children aged 2-5 have the highest consumption of SSBs. In Georgia (GA), 13% of low-income children are obese. In 2014, GA added beverage provisions to child care licensing regulations, however, no known studies have examined policy compliance.
The primary goal of this study is to assess the current status of beverage policy implementation in child care programs in GA based on participation in the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and program type. The specific aims of the project are to: 1) Assess implementation of wellness practices and policies in child care programs participating in Georgia via a statewide survey; 2) Determine barriers to and facilitators of the adoption of wellness practices policies in ECE programs; and 3) Use findings to assist Georgia ECE stake holders in developing training to improve wellness policy implementation.
Bee Smart, Eat Smart
Less than 10% of children in the United States consume the recommended 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Consumption rates are even lower among children in Georgia who consume only 1 serving of fruit and vegetables per day. Low intake of fruits and vegetables increases children’s risk for obesity and many chronic diseases.Teaching children about gardening and cooking is a promising strategy to improve knowledge and attitudes about fruits and vegetables. Studies show increased knowledge of gardening and involvement in cooking is correlated with increased the willingness to try fruits and vegetables as well as the consumption of fruits and vegetables among youth. Bee pollination is critical for the growth of many fruits and vegetables. However, limited studies have investigated using the role of pollination to promote fruits and vegetables to youth.
The goal of this study is to assess the feasibility of using a garden curriculum to promote pollinated fruits and vegetables to youth ages 6-11. Researchers hypothesize that participating children will have increased knowledge of, improved willingness to try, and improved attitudes about eating fruit and vegetables. The research study will use two approaches to assess the effectiveness of the program: 1) A 1-week experiential garden curriculum, "Bee Smart, Eat Smart", Summer Camp at the State Botanical Garden; 2) A parent-child cooking class based on the Bee Smart, Eat Smart at the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia teaching kitchen in Clayton, GA. Both approaches show promising results.
Bee Smart, Eat Smart is a partnership with the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, and the UGA Department of Foods and Nutrition.
Healthy Child Care Georgia
Healthy Child Care Georgia (HCCG) is a research study supported by the USDA SNAP-Ed Program. HCCG uses 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 have implemented 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)
First Year Odyssey Seminar (FYOS 1001), Chopped: Nutrition Education and Cookin Demonstrations to Improve Health
Mobile School Food Pantry Cooking Demonstrations and Nutrition Education with the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia
School Lunch Challenge
Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) class Chopped: Cooking for Health and Wellness
Aw Shucks Day Celebration
UGA Service Learning Fellow 2014- 2015: Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Service Learning Project conducted and awarded $2500
|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||2010-2013|
|Kellogg Health Scholars Postdoctoral Program, Community Based Participatory Research, Morgan State University School of Community Health and Policy, Baltimore, MD||Postdoctoral Fellow||2008-2010|
|Award Name||Awarded By||Year Awarded|
|Chris Todd Outstanding Outreach Award||UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences||2018|
|FACS 100 Honoree||UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences||2017|
|Feature Cover Article for FACS Magazine on Scholarship, Research and Outreach||UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences||2017|
|Georgia Trend Magazine 40 Under 40 Honoree||Georgia Trend Magazine||2016|
|WIlliam Dietz Nutrition Award Nominee||CDC||2015|
|Diverse Magazine Emerging Scholars Award Nominee||Diverse Issues in Higher Education||2014|
|UGA Alumni 40 Under 40 Award||UGA Alumni Association||2012|
|FACS Pacesetter Award||UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences||2012|
|Top 25 Women of Atlanta Award Recipient||Rolling Out Magazine||2011|
|New Connections Symposium Selected Attendee||Robert Wood Johnson Foundation||2009|
Publications Under Review
|National Farm to School Network Advisory Board||Board Member||2018-Present|
|Food Bank of Northeast Georgia Board of Directors||Board Member||2018-Present|
|United States Department of Agriculture Grant Review||Panel Member||2017|
|University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Department for Food Science and Human Nutrition External Advisory Board||Member||2016-Present|
|Yancey and Edgley Fellowship for Health Promotion Advisory Board||Member||2016-Present|
|Southern Obesity Summit Planning Committee||Member||2016-2017|
|UGA Office of the Vice President for Instruction Faculty Advisory Board||Member||2016-Present|
|Department of Foods and Nutrition Alumni Relations Committee||Chair||2016-Present|
|Easter Seals North Georgia Policy Council||Member||2015-Present|
|Georgia Regents University/UGA Medical Scholars Program||Research Mentor||2016|
|Georgia SHAPE Initiative Evaluation Team||Member||2014-Present|
|Center for Undergraduate Research Opportunities (CURO)||Research Mentor||2014-Present|
|Fighting Against Youth Obesity Student Organization||Faculty Advisor||2014-Present|
|UGA Service-Learning Fellow||Fellow||2013-2014|
|Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research ECE Research to Practice Workgroup||Member||2013-Present|
|University of Georgia Obesity Initiative Maternal and Child Health and Community Health Team||Member||2013-Present|
|CDC DNPAO Obesity Prevention Branch||Community Service Coordinator||2012-2013|
|Healthy Lifestyles Healthy Kids||Team Registered Dietitian||2010-Present|
|Healthy Kids, Healthy Future National Steering Commitee||Member||2010-2013|
|First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's Move! Child Care Initiative Workgroup||2010-2013|
|UGA College of Family and Consumer Sciences Alumni Board||Member||2005-2008; 2012-2013|