Leann Birch, Ph.D.

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Foods and Nutrition

William P. "Bill" Flatt Childhood Obesity Professor

172 Dawson Hall
305 Sanford Dr.
Athens, GA 30602


workOffice Phone: 706-542-2899

Fax: 706-542-5059

Curriculum Vitae


Degree Field of Study Institution Graduation
PhD Psychology University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 1975
MA Psychology University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 1973
BA Psychology California State University, Long Beach 1971


Leann Birch, Ph.D. is William P. Flatt Professor in the Department of Foods and Nutrition at The University of Georgia. Her research focuses on individual and contextual factors affecting the development of individual differences in the behavioral controls of food intake and obesity risk among infants, children, and adolescents. In recent years, her research has focused on conducting randomized controlled trials, which have been successful in reducing early obesity risk. These interventions, designed to influence maternal caregiving, infant feeding, sleeping, and crying, prevented excessive weight gain in infancy and reduced the prevalence of overweight during infancy and early childhood. She is the author of more than 250 publications and has been awarded more than $30 million in federal research funding. Dr. Birch received her PhD in Psychology from the University of Michigan and served on the faculty at the University of Illinois and the Pennsylvania State University before joining the UGA faculty in 2014. For more information, see the Maternal and Child Nutrition Laboratory.

Current Research

My current research focuses on early obesity prevention, including ongoing pilot work focused on early infant feeding and rapid weight gain. The project seeks to assess how early infant feeding mode (breastfeeding vs. bottle feeeding) affects changes in infant growth over the first 16 weeks postpartum. This research also seeks to examine gestational weight gain, and how infant feeding methods are related to postpartum weight loss, infant growth and body composition.


I will be teaching  (FDNS/KINS/ECHD 8595), a graduate course that provides a transdisciplinary overview of obesity and weight management. This course is a requirement for the newly approved Graduate Certificate Program in Obesity and Weight Management.


Award Name Awarded By Year Awarded
E.V. McCollum Award The American Society for Nutrition 2012
Leadership In Outreach Scholarship Award College of Health and Human Development, The Pennsylvania State University 2011
Fellow The American Society for Nutrition 2011
Oded Bar-Or Award for Excellence in Pediatric Obesity Research The Obesity Society 2010
Distinguished Professor of Human Development The Pennsylvania State University 2003
Faculty Scholar Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Social and Behavioral Sciences The Pennsylvania State University 2003
Fellow CIC Academic Leadership Program 1996
G. Malcolm Trout Scholar Award Michigan State University 1995
Paul A. Funk Recognition Award College of Agriculture, UIUC 1992
Lederle Laboratories Award in Human Nutrition American Institute of Nutrition 1992

Journal Articles

Recent Publications (2012-Present):

Paul, I.M., Hohman, E.E., Loken, E., et al. Mother-Infant Room-Sharing and Sleep Outcomes in the INSIGHT Study. Pediatrics. 2017;140(1):e20170122. 10.1542/peds.2017-0122.

Carney, M.C., Tarasiuk, A., DiAngelo, S.L., Silveyra, P., Podany, A., Birch, L.L., Paul, I.M., Kelleher, S., Hicks, S.D. (2017). Metabolism-related microRNAs in maternal breast milk are influenced by premature delivery. Pediatric Research. 2017 May 24. doi: 10.1038/pr.2017.54.

Hicks, S.D., Carney, M.C., Tarasiuk, A., DiAngelo, S.L., Birch, L.L., Paul, I.M. (2017). Breastmilk microRNAs are stable throughout feeding and correlate with maternal weight. Translational Genetics and Genomics. Epub ahead of print: http://tggjournal.com/article/view/2039.

Balantekin, K. N., Birch, L. L., & Savage, J. S. (2017). Family, friend, and media factors are associated with patterns of weight-control behavior among adolescent girls. Eating and Weight Disorders. Advance online publication. DOI: 10.1007/s40519-016-0359-4.

Bomberg, E., Birch, L., Endenburg, N., German, A.J., Neilson, J., Seligman, H., Takashima, G., Day, M.J. (2017). The Financial Costs, Behaviour and Psychology of Obesity: A One Health Analysis. J. Comp. Path. 2017, Vol 156, 310-325. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jcpa.2017.03.007

Stoeckel, L.E., Birch, L.L., Heatheron, T., Mann, T., Hunter, C.,  Czajkowski, S., Onken, L., Berger, P.K., Savage, C.R. (2017) Psychological and neural contributions to appetite self-regulation. Obesity Special Issue (Self-Regulation of Appetite – It’s Complicated, Feb 2017. doi: 10.1002/oby.21789

Symons Downs, D., DiNallo, J.M., Birch, L.L., Paul, I.M., Ulbrecht, J.S. (2017). Randomized Face-to-      face vs. Home exercise interventions in pregnant women with gestational diabetes. Psychology of Sport and Exercise, Feb 2017.  doi: 10.1016/j.psychsport.2017.02.003.

Savage, J.S., Rollins, B.Y., Kugler, K.C., Birch, L.L., Marini, M.E. (2017). Development of a theory-based questionnaire to assess structure and control in parent feeding (SCPF). International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Jan 2017. 14(9). doi 10.1186/s12966-017-0466-2.

Rose, C., Birch, L.L., Savage, J.S. (2017). Dietary patterns in infancy are associated with child diet and weight outcomes at 6 years. International Journal of Obesity. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2017.27.

Berger, P.K., Hohman, E.E., Marini, M.E., Savage, J.S., Birch, L.L. (2016). Girls' picky eating in childhood is associated with normal weight status from ages 5 to 15. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 104(6): 1577-1582. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.142430

Hohman, E.E., Paul, I.M., Birch, L.L., Savage, J.S. (2016). INSIGHT Responsive Parenting Intervention is Associated with Healthier Patterns of Dietary Exposures in Infants. Pediatric Obesity Jan 2017; 25(1), 185-191. doi:10.1002/oby.21705.

Balantekin, K.N., Birch, L.L., Savage, J.S. (2016) Eating in the absence of hunger during childhood predicts self-reported binge eating in adolescence. Eating Behaviors Jan 2017; 24, 7-10. Epub ahead of print: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eatbeh.2016.11.003

Savage, J.S. Neshteruk, C.D., Balantekin, K.N., Birch, L.L. (2016). Low-Income Women's Feeding Practices and Perceptions of Dietary Guidance: A Qualitative Study. Maternal Child Health, 2016 Dec; 20(12):2510-17. doi: 10.1007/s10995-016-2076-z

Paul, I.M., Savage, J.S., Anzman-Frasca, S., Marini, M.E., Mindell, J.A., Birch, L.L. (2016). INSIGHT responsive parenting intervention and infant sleep. Pediatrics 2016; 138(1): e20160762. PMCID: PMC4925087. doi: 10.1542/peds.2016-0762.

Savage, J.S., Birch, L.L., Marini, M.E., Anzman-Frasca, S., Paul, I.M. (2016). Effect of the INSIGHT responsive parenting intervention reduces rapid infant weight gain and overweight at age 1 year: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatrics 2016; 170(8):742-749. PMCID: PMC4969142. doi: 10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.0445.

Kugler, K.C., Balantekin, K.N., Birch, L.L., Savage, J.S. (2016). Application of the multiphase optimization strategy to a pilot study: an empirical example targeting obesity among children of low-income mothers. 2016 Nov 22; 16(1):1181. PMID: 27876027 PMCID: PMC5120514 doi: 10.1186/s12889-016-3850-y

Doub, A.E, Small, M.L., Birch, L.L.. (2016). An exploratory analysis of child feeding beliefs and behaviors included in food blogs written by mothers of preschool-aged children. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 48(2), 93-103.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2015.09.001

Doub, A.E., Birch, L.L. (2016). A call for research exploring social media influences on mothers' child feeding practices and childhood obesity risk. Appetite. 2016 Apr 1; 99:298-305. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.01.003. Epub 2016 Jan 5.

Savage, J.S., Birch, L.L. (2016). WIC mothers’ depressive symptoms are associated with greater use of feeding to soothe, regardless of perceived child negativity. Pediatric Obes. 2016 Feb 9. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12122. [Epub ahead of print].

Rose, C.M., Savage, J.W., Birch, L.L. Patterns of early dietary exposures have implications for maternal and child weight outcomes. Obesity. 2016 Feb;24(2):430-8. doi: 10.1002/oby.21349. Epub 2015 Dec 31.

Balantekin, K.N., Birch, L.L., Savage, J.S. Patterns of weight-control behavior among 15 year old girls. Int J Eat Disord. 2015 Sep;48(6):589-600. doi: 10.1002/eat.22426. Epub 2015 Jun 17.

Rollins, B.Y., Savage, J.S., Fisher, J.O., Birch, L.L. Alternatives to restrictive feeding practices to promote self-regulation in childhood: a developmental perspective. Pediatr Obes. 2015 Sep 25. doi: 10.1111/ijpo.12071.

Anzman-Frasca, S., Francis, L.A., Birch, L.L. Inhibitory Control is Associated with Psychosocial, Cognitive, and Weight Outcomes in a Longitudinal Sample of Girls. Trans Issues Psychol Sci. 2015 Sep;1(3):203-216. doi: 10.1037/tps0000028 Epub 2014 Sep 1.

Duyff, R.L., Birch, L.L., Byrd-Bredbenner, C., Johnson, S.L., Mattes, R.D., Murphy, M.M., Nicklas, T.A., Rollins, B.Y., Wansink, B. Candy consumption patterns, effects on health, and behavioral strategies to promote moderation: summary report of a roundtable discussion. Adv Nutr. 2015 Jan 15;6(1):139S-46S. doi: 10.3945/an.114.007302. Print 2015 Jan.

Mooreville, M., Davey, A., Orloski, A., Hannah, E.L., Mathias, K.C., Birch, L.L., Kral, T.V., Zakeri, I.F., Fisher, J.O. (2015). Individual Differences in Susceptibility to Large Portion Sizes Among Obese and Normal-Weight Non-Hispanic Black Children. Obesity, 2015 Apr;23(4):808-14. doi: 10.1002/oby.21014. Epub 2015 Feb 13.

Park, S., Li, R., Birch, L.L. (2015). Mothers’ Child-Feeding Practices Are Associated with Children’s Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake. The Journal of Nutrition, 2015. doi: 10.3945/jn.114.207233

Lumeng, J.C., Taveras, E.M., Birch, L.L., Yanovski, S.Z. (2015). Prevention of Obesity in Infancy and Early Childhood: A National Institutes of Health Workshop. JAMA Pediatrics. JAMA Pediatr. 2015 May;169(5):484-90. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2014.3554

Moding, K., Birch, L.L., Stifter, C. (2014). Infant temperament and feeding history predict infants’ responses to novel foods. Appetite, 2014 Dec. 83:218-225. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2014.08.030.

Birch L.L., Savage J., Fisher J.O. Right sizing prevention: Food portion size effects on children's eating and weight. Appetite, 2015 May. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.11.021. [Epub 2014 Nov 20].

Rollins B.Y., Loken E., Savage J.S., Birch L.L. Reply to EM Satter. AJCN 2014 Sept;100(3):987-8. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.092049.

Anzman-Frasca, S., Stifter, C.A., Paul, I.M., & Birch, L.L. (2014). Negative temperament as a moderator of intervention effects in infancy: Testing a differential susceptibility model. Prevention Science, Oct 2014, 15(5), 643-653. doi: 10.1007/s11121-013-0408-4.

Li, R., Scanlon, K.S., May, A., Rose, C., Birch, L.L. (2014). Bottle-feeding practices during early infancy and eating behaviors at 6 years of age. Pediatrics. 2014 Sep;134 Suppl 1:S70-7. doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-0646L.

Paul, I.M., Williams, J.S., Anzman-Frasca, S., Beiler, J.S., Makova, K.D., Marini, M.E., Hess, L.B., Rzucidlo, S.E., Verdiglione, N., Mindell, J.A., Birch, L.L. (2014). The Intervention Nurses Start Infants Growing on Healthy Trajectories (INSIGHT) study. BMC Pediatrics, July 2014, 14:184. doi: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1471-2431/14/184.

Balantekin, K.N., Savage, J.S., Marini, M.E., Birch, L.L. (2014). Parental encouragement of dieting promotes daughters’ early dieting. Appetite, Sep 2014. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.05.016.

Rollins, B.Y., Loken, E., Savage, J.S., & Birch, L.L. (2014). Effects of restriction on children’s intake differ by child temperament, food reinforcement, and parent’s chronic use of restriction. Appetite, 2014 Feb:73: 31-9. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.10.005.

Birch, L.L., Doub, A.E., (2014). Learning to eat: birth to age 2y. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014, Mar:99(3): 7235-85. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.069047.

Rollins, B.Y., Loken, E., Savage, J.S., & Birch, L.L. (2014). Maternal controlling feeding practices and girls’ inhibitory control interact to predict changes in BMI and eating in the absence of hunger from 5 to 7 y. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2014 Feb;99(2):249-57. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.063545.

Rollins, B.Y., Loken, E., Savage, J.S., & Birch, L.L. (2014). Measurement of food reinforcement in preschool children. Associations with food intake, BMI, and reward sensitivity. Appetite, 2014 Jan;72:21-7. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.09.018.

Roe, L.S., Meengs, J.S., Birch, L.L., & Rolls, B.J. (2013). Serving a variety of vegetables and fruit as a snack increased intake in preschool children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 98(3), 693-699. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.113.062901.

Scheid, J.L., Birch, L.L., Williams, N.I., Rolls, B.J., & De Souza, M.J. (2013). Postprandial peptide YY is lower in young college-aged women with high dietary cognitive restraint. Physiology & Behavior. 2013 Aug: 15;120:26-33, doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2013/06/025.

Anzman-Frasca., Stifter, C.A., Paul, I.M., & Birch, L.L. (2013). Negative temperament as a moderator of intervention effects in infancy: Testing a differential susceptibility model. Prevention Science. Epub ahead of print, doi: 10.1007/s11121-013-0408-4.

Savage, J.S., Peterson, J., Marini, M., Bordi, P.L., & Birch, L.L. (2013). The addition of a plain or herb-flavored reduced-fat dip is associated with improved preschoolers’ intake of vegetables. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 2013 Jul:37(7):954-60, doi. 10.1016/j.jand.2013.03.013.

Fisher, J.O., Birch, L.L., Zhang, J., Grusak, M.A. & Hughes, S.O. (2013). External influences on children’s self-served portions at meals. International Journal of Obesity, 37(7), 954-960. doi: 10.1038/ijo.2012.216.

Anzman-Frasca., Stifter, C.A., Paul, I.M., & Birch, L.L. (2013). Infant temperament and maternal parenting self-efficacy predict child weight outcomes. Infant Behavior & Development, 36, 494-497. doi: 10.1016/j.infeh.2013.04.006.

DiSantis, K.I., Birch, L.L., Davey, A., Serrano, E.L., Zhang, J., Bruton, Y., & Fisher, J.O. (2013). Plate size and children’s appetite: Effects of larger dishware on self-served portions and intake. Pediatrics, 131 (5), e1451-e1458. doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-2330.

Casazza, K., Fontaine, K.R., Astrup, A., Birch, L.L., Brown, A.W., Bohan Brown, M.M., Durant, N., Dutton, G., Foster, E.M., Heymsfield, S.B., McIver, K., Mehta, T., Menachemi, N., Newby, P.K., Pate, R., Rolls, B.J., Sen, B., Smith Jr, D.L., Thomas, D.M., & Allison, D.B. (2013). Myths, presumptions, and facts about obesity. New England Journal of Medicine, 368(5), 446 – 454. doi: 10.1056?NEJMsa1208051.

Anzman-Frasca, S., Liu, S., Gates, K.M., Paul, I.M., Rovine, M.J., & Birch, L.L. (2013). Infants’ transitions out of a fussing/crying state are modifiable and are related to weight status. Infancy. 2013 Sept/Oct; 18(5):662-686, doi: 10.111.infa.12002

Anzman-Frasca, S., Stifter, C.A., & Birch, L.L. (2012). Temperament and childhood obesity risk: A review of the literature. Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 33(9), 732 – 745. doi. 10.1097/DBP.0b013e31826a119f

Kral, T.V., Allison, D.B., Birch, L.L., Stallings, V.A., Moore, R.H., & Faith, M.S. (2012). Caloric compensation and eating in the absence of hunger in 5- to 12-y-old weight-discordant siblings. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 96 (3), 574 – 583. doi:10.3945/ajcn.112.037952.

Dattilo, A.M., Birch, L.L., Krebs, N.F., Lake, A., Taveras, E.M., & Saavedra J.M. (2012). Need for early interventions in the prevention of pediatric overweight: A review and upcoming directions. Journal of Obesity, 2012, ID 123023, 18 pages. doi: 10.1155/2012/123023.

Savage, J.S., Haisfield, L., Fisher, J.O., Marini, M., & Birch, L.L. (2012). Do children eat less at meals when allowed to serve themselves? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 96 (1), 36 – 43. doi: 10.3945/​ajcn.112.035261

Anzman-Frasca, S., Savage, J.S., Marini, M.E., Fisher, J.O. & Birch, L.L. (2012). Repeated exposure and associative conditioning promote preschool children’s liking of vegetables. Appetite, 58 (2), 543 – 553. doi. 10.1016/j.appet.2011.11.012

Savage, J.S., Fisher, J.O., Marini, M. & Birch, L.L. (2012). Serving smaller age-appropriate entrée portions to children aged 3-5y increases fruit and vegetable intake and reduces energy density and energy intake at lunch. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 95 (2), 335 – 341. doi. 10.3945/​ajcn.111.017848

Mathias, K.C., Rolls, B.J., Birch, L.L., Kral, T.V.E., Hanna, E.L., Davey, A. & Fisher, J.O. (2012). Serving larger portions of fruits and vegetables together at dinner promotes intake of both foods among young children. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 112 (2), 266 -270. doi. 10.1016/j.jada.2011.08.040


Organization Title Year(s) Service Type
United States Department of Agriculture, Dietary Guidance Development Project For Birth to 24 Months and Pregnancy Member, Systematic Review Team 2015-Present National
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Best Practices for Promoting Healthy Nutrition, Feeding Patterns and Weight Status for Infants and Toddlers from Birth to 24 months Member, Healthy Eating Research Expert Panel 2016-Present National
National Collaborative on Childhood Obesity Research (NCCOR) Invited Panelist, Research Member Meeting 2017 National
The National Academies of Science, , A Workshop on Strategies to Limit Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in Young Children: Evaluation of Federal, State, and Local Policies and Programs Planning Committee member and Session Moderator 2017 National
Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences Member, Planning Committee on Understanding the Dynamic Relationship between Biology, Environment, and Early Childhood Development on Risk 2014- 2015 National
FACS Member, College Faculty Advisory Committee 2014-2016 College
FACS Member, College Promotion and Tenure Committee 2014-Present College
HDFS, FACS Member, Child Health and Well-Being Faculty Search Committee 2014 Department
American Academy of Pediatrics, Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight Member, Advisory Board 2013-Present National
Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences Member, Committee on Childhood Obesity Prevention 2006-2013 National
Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences Chair, Committee on Obesity Prevention Policies for Young Children 2009-2011 National


Edited Books:

Birch, L. L. & Dietz, W. (Eds.). (2007). Eating behaviors of the young child: Prenatal and postnatal influences on healthy eating.  Elk Grove Village: American Academy of Pediatrics.

Birch, L. L., Parker, L., & Burns, A. (Eds.) (2011). Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Policies. Washington, D.C,: Institute of Medicine, National Academies Press.

Chapters in Books:

Last five years:

Birch, L.L. (2016) Learning to Eat: Behavioral and Psychological Aspects. Fewtrell MS, Haschke F, Prescott SL (eds): Preventive Aspects of Early Nutrition. Nestlé Nutr Inst Workshop Ser, vol 85, pp 125–134, (DOI: 10.1159/000439503)

Berger P.K., Birch L.L. Early Life Interventions For Obesity Prevention (2016) In: Goran M.I. (Ed.) Childhood Obesity: Causes, Consequences and Intervention Approaches, Taylor and Francis. Ch.34; (385-392).

Birch, L.L., Anzman-Frasca, S., & Paul, I.M. (2012). Starting early: Obesity prevention during infancy. In A. Drewnowski & B.J. Rolls (Eds.), Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop Series, Vol. 73: Obesity Treatment and Prevention: New Directions (pp. 81-94). Basel: Karger Medical and Scientific Publishers.

Paul, I. M., Savage, J. S., Anzman-Frasca, S., & Birch, L. L. (2012). Obesity prevention during infancy: a change of focus. Fisher, J.O., topic ed. In: Tremblay, R. E., Boivin, M., Peters R. D.e.V., (Eds).  Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development [online].  Montreal, Quebec: Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development; pp. 1-7.  Available at: http://www.childencyclopedia.com/documents/Paul-Savage-Anzman-Frasca-BirchANGxp1.pdf

Birch, L.L., & Anzman-Frasca, S. (2011). Learning to prefer the familiar in obesogenic environments. H. van Goudoever, S. Guandalini, & R. Kleinman (Eds.), Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop Series Pediatric Program, Vol. 68: Early Nutrition: Impact on Short and Long-Term Health (pp. 187-199). Basel: Karger Medical and Scientific Publishers.

Working Papers

Motoyasu, N.L., Berger, P.K., Smith, J.J., Anderson, A.K., Birch, L.L. (2017). Infant Feeding Mode is Associated with Differences in Maternal Postpartum Weight Change and Percent Body Fat From 2 to 16 Weeks. Maternal and Child Health Journal. (In review).

Berger, P.K., Lavner, J.A., Smith, J.J., Birch, L.L. (2017). Differences in early risk factors for obesity between African American formula-fed infants and White breastfed controls. Pilot and Feasibility Studies. (In review).