Research in Nutritional Sciences
Alex Kojo Anderson
My research focuses on the nutrition of women and infants, infant and young child feeding, breastfeeding promotion and protection, growth of infants and children, body composition of infants, children and pregnant women, as well as community and international interventions for nutrition and health. I have expertise in both qualitative, quantitative and nutritional research methods. I am currently involved in a multi-site research project evaluating parental practices supporting positive eating behaviors during independent eating occassions among early adolescent children. I am also in the early stages of a collaborative study examining barriers to healthy weight management among women of childbearing age in Ghana. With funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation we begun a new project as part of a consortium to develop and use technology for dietary assessment in low- and middle-income countries. The focus of this Gates Foundation funded project is to validate passive technologies for the passive dietary assessment. This project is currently ongoing in Ghana. For more information, see the Maternal and Child Nutrition Laboratory.
I am evaluating the parental practices that support positive eating behaviors during independent eating occassions of early adolescent children with a multi-site team. In a pending study,
I am examining barriers to healthy weight management among women of childbearing age in Ghana.
As part of the Innovative Passive Dietary Monitoring System Project, we are currently conducting field studies to validate the effectiveness of the Automatic Ingestion Monitoring (AIM) device, eButton, eHat and the FoodCAM for dietary assessment and nutrient analysis in Ghana.
Associate Professor and Extension Nutrition and Health Specialist
Alison's current research involves evaluating community Extension education programs to improve nutrition behavior for the prevention and management of chronic disease, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Another emphasis of her work is translational research to study implementation of evidence-based interventions through the Cooperative Extension model.
Our research falls under the umbrella of exploring the effectiveness of the Extension model to enhance knowledge and facilitate healthy behavior change across the lifespan. Specifically, we focus on the impact of UGA Extension's Cooking for a Lifetime of Cancer Prevention on cancer preventive lifestyle behaviors and screening for breast, cervical, and colorectal cancer among urban and rural Georgians and exploring the relationship of program implementation factors on outcomes. Newer research includes exploring feasability and acceptability of the National Diabetes Prevention Program in UGA Extension and the impact on diet quality, physical activity, and physical function among middle-aged and older participants, and the relationship of health insurance status and preventative care behaviors on participant outcomes.
Dissertation project: Psychological Constructs, Measures of Adiposity and Weight Loss Following Intervention in Older Women
Professor, Interim Associate Dean for Academic Programs, Director of UGA Obesity Initiative
Dr. Cooper's research encompasses a number of areas ranging from human obesity to athletic performance. Her primary research interests are aimed at addressing metabolic and satiety hormone responses to different nutrients and/or exercise in humans.
My research lab is currently examining the metabolic and endocrine responses to high-fat meals or diets of varying fatty acid composition in normal weight and obese women. We are particularly interested in fat metabolism and hunger and satiety hormone responses to these meals or diets.
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.
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.
- Georgia Child Care Wellness Survey Data: Program Type
- Georgia Child Care Wellness Survey Data: CACFP Participation
- Georgia Child Care Wellness Survey Data: Learning Preferences
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.
Dr. Cox’s research interests include sensory evaluation and product development, with an emphasis on ingredient reduction (sodium, fat, sugar) and utilizing functional ingredients and value-added foods. For more information, see the Sensory Evaluation and Product Development Laboratory.
Claire de La Serre
Dr. de La Serre research centers on the understanding and alleviation of diet-induced chronic diseases, in particular the development and prevention of obesity. Her studies have focused on the role of gastrointestinal (GI) tract post-ingestive cues in overeating. Her laboratory uses animal models, including germ-free rodents, to investigate the pathways by which chronic consumption of energy-dense palatable food promotes overeating. Current studies examine diet-induced dysregulation of gut-brain communication and the role of the gut microbiota. For more information, see the Gastrointestinal Neurophysiology Laboratory.
Current research projects include:
- Mechanisms of diet-driven vagal remodeling on gut-brain feeding behavior, focus on microbiota and microglia
- Neuronal toxicity of bacterial products in energy-dense diet-induced obesity
- Influence of microbiota composition on reward pathways and hedonic eating
- Microbiota composition and cognitive functions
Dr. de La Serre is currently accepting new graduate students
Maternal and infant nutrition is related to child growth and later health as an adult. Hence, Dr. Gallo's research focuses on nutrition during the critical periods of development, from pregnancy to childhood. She has conducted seminal work on infant vitamin D requirements and continues to explore adherence and the appropriateness of current vitamin D recommendations for bone development. She is also interested in the diets of young children and how these relate to healthy growth. She works with vulnerable populations including those participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Her most recent work includes the development of culturally adapted interventions for pediatric obesity management among Latinos.
- Infant Vitamin D: Breast fed infants are susceptible to vitamin D deficiency because breast milk contains insufficient amounts. Hence, public health guidelines suggest infant vitamin D supplementation to begin at birth yet, only 1/3 of US infants meet this recommendation. Dr. Gallo's most recent work in this area explores adherence with current infant vitamin D policies and requirements among low-income and racially/ethnically diverse populations.
- Vidas Activas y Familias Saludables (VALÉ): Latino children have an almost 3-fold higher risk of obesity, compared to their white counterparts. They also have less access to treatment programs. With colleagues in exercise and psychology, Dr. Gallo has developed a culturally-adapted pediatric weight management program in Latino communities. She is currently testing the effectiveness of family-based, group treatment among low-income Latino children who are overweight or obese.
- What Children Eat: Errors in dietary assessment limit the ability to assess to detect true diet- diseases associations. Children are unique in dietary assessment due to developmental and cognitive immaturity. Dr. Gallo's work focuses on improving the accuracy of dietary recalls among elementary school-aged children, through exploring age, body mass index and race/ethnicity.
Dr. Giraudo researches in the area of Community Nutrition. Her areas of interest are in the field of Childhood Obesity in the State of Georgia. Through the Evaluation of Cooperative Extension Nutrition education programs geared to obesity and weight management and the training of students to conduct community research with Extension, to develop nutrition intervention programs to better address the needs of the community, especially to design childhood obesity interventions while working in Extension in the state of Georgia.
Her future interest is to address the Nutrition Education needs of the Hispanic Community.
My research focuses on the impact of zinc on changes in micro-RNAs, a potential innovative biomarker for zinc status, to ensure adequate intake associated with optimal health. I am also interested in cellular and tissue zinc metabolism, and the role zinc plays in altering protein levels in tissue samples.
My current research involves the use of bioinformatic and transcriptomic analyses to determine the effects of zinc on the regulation of small, non-coding RNA transcription. i am particularly interested in determining the mechanisms for controlling zinc-dependent osteogenesis by zinc through its interactions with the metal transcription factor-1/metal regulatory element complex and osteogenic signaling pathways.
Assistant Professor, Extension Nutrition Specialist
As state Coordinator for EFNEP (Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program) my work focuses on both adult and youth nutrition programming and curriculum for low income families, collaborating with other Extension and Department colleagues (i.e. SNAP-Ed, 4H), and developing a variety of community partnerships throughout the state for nutrition, health, and wellness.
The FoodMASTER Initiative teaches math and science concepts through food and nutrition. The goal of this NIH SEPA grant (Science Education Partnership Award) is to support STEM learning for underserved, minority youth through informal learning environments. Led by PI, Dr. Melani Duffrin(Northern Illinois University), this project also works to create a Deep South Network with collaborators from Illinois, Alabama, Mississippi, and North and South Carolina. As the Georgia partner, my work with the FoodMASTER curriculum focuses on programming with middle to high school youth within the Boys and Girls Club setting in the Metro Atlanta area.
Other areas of research and research interests include utilizing my clinical and community nutrition background to develop programs and interventions for overweight youth and their families, particularly in underserved populations. My research program also focuses on translating the science of energy balance and metabolism into the community and clinical setting not only through nutrition assessment with indirect calorimetry, but in nutrition education so as to help youth learn nutrition concepts while also promoting dietary behavior change
Dr. Kindler's research focuses on identifying determinants of peak bone mass, notably with respect to diet and chronic disease. His lab uses several bone imaging methodologies for clinical and translational research studies, including high resolution peripheral quantitative computed tomography (HR-pQCT), peripheral quantitative computed tomography (pQCT), and dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Dr. Kindler is currently leading several clinical studies aimed at characterizing the influence of youth-onset type 2 diabetes on the growing skeleton. To learn more, visit the Nutrition and Skeletal Health Laboratory page.
Clinical Professor and Director of Dietetics
My research expertise is determining the efficacy of non-diet approaches to improve health and well-being, and my courses likewise challenge diet culture and incorporate the deleterious effects of weight stigma on health. I also have decades of experience using imaging techniques for assessment of bone and body composition and employing dietary and physical activity interventions to reduce the risk of chronic disease, including osteoporosis.
Jung Sun Lee
Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Family and Consumer Sciences; Faculty of Gerontology
My research examines nutritional health issues in low-income population with a focus on food insecurity, food environments, healthcare utilization, program evaluation of community-based nutrition interventions, and nutrition policy. My research uses multidisciplinary approaches, and both quantitative and qualitative research methods. I have been conducting studies to better understand the extent and nature of food insecurity, to improve the capacity of food and nutrition assistance programs, and to establish research methodology and datasets to examine the nutrition issues in human services including aging services, healthcare, and public assistance to meet the needs of low-income Georgians. For more information about my research and the UGA SNAP-Ed project, visit the Community Nutrition Laboratory.
Since I joined the University of Georgia (UGA), I have developed the Georgia Advanced Performance Outcomes Measures Project (GA Advanced POMP) which is the first study to test the feasibility of innovative research methods to improve program evaluation as part of administrative processes based on the partnership between GA Aging Services Network and UGA. I have been leading the Georgia CAFE (Community Advocacy to Access Food Stamps for the Elderly and Disabled) project since 2011, the first-ever SNAP application assistance model in Georgia to enhance coordination, access, and participation in SNAP for low-income older Georgians based on collaborations among the UGA, the Georgia Legal Services Program, and Georgia Division of Family and Children Services in around 30 urban and rural counties in Georgia. I have also established the UGA SNAP-Ed project, which provides an innovative, multi-level nutrition education and obesity prevention intervention to SNAP-Ed eligible adult Georgian population using existing/augmented network and practice of the UGA Cooperative Extension Services (CES) since 2013.
Dr. Noble's research uses animal models to investigate how the brain controls feeding behavior and energy balance. Our research also investigates the mechanisms by which nutrition affects the brain and cognitive function. Visit the Nutritional Neuroscience Laboratory or noblelab-uga.com/ to learn more.
Current research topics in include:
Neuropeptides and the regulation of eating behavior
Brain glycogen and body weight regulation
Western dietary factors and cognitive function
The impact of early life nutrition on brain development and behavior
Hea Jin Park
My research focuses on defining the beneficial role of bioactive food compounds and functional foods in human health and on investigating their mechanisms of action in chronic diseases and perinatal development. For more information, see the Bioactive Compounds and Health Laboratory.
My research is focused on the bioactive properties of two specific lipids: Dihydrosterculic acid (DHSA) and linoleic acid. DHSA is a cyclopropene fatty acid that is found naturally in cottonseed oil and it blocks endogenous lipid synthesis and cholesterol biogenesis. I am actively pursuing methods to assess its ability to treat hyperlipidemia and hypercholesterolemia in animal and human models. My work in the bioactive properties of linoleic acid has centered on its role in modulating skeletal muscle myogenesis and mitochondrial biogenesis. As a long-chain omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acid, it promotes transcriptional activity via nuclear receptor-DNA interactions and more recently I have found that its ability to induce angiopoietin-like protein 4 production in muscle significantly impairs the capacity for muscle differentiation and metabolic function. The purpose of my research is to help restore normal metabolic function in disease states using molecular biology and biochemistry to understand how macronutrient metabolism is regulated in cell and animal models. For more information, visit the Biochemistry of Metabolism Laboratory.
- PUFA-mediated regulation of myogenesis.
- The role of dihydrosterculic acid in hepatic lipid metabolism.
My research group is working to improve the human experience by eliminating the burdens of chronic medical conditions, such as liver disease and heart failure. We focus on two risk factors long considered to be fixed and unmodifiable – genetics and age – and how they impact disease development, with emphases on metabolism, hormone activity, and organ structure and function. Through our work, we are contributing to the future of personalized medicine and discovering the next generation of exciting therapeutic targets to treat chronic diseases, restore health, and vastly improve lives.
For more information, see the Complex Diseases Laboratory.
Our current research projects include:
R01 GM121551 NIH/NIGMS Defining the Genetic Architecture of the Glutathione Redox System; Role: Principal Investigator.
Dr. Sattler has an international background in pharmacy, nutrition, and aging, and conducts patient-oriented research aimed at understanding and improving disparities in cardiovascular health, and interdisciplinary approaches to CVD disease prevention and management at large. Research methodologies used in her lab include epidemiological studies and clinical trials.
Recently, I developed collaborations with well-funded, senior faculty in Medicine and Nursing at Emory University and the UGA/AU Medical Partnership to carry out clinical research in advanced heart failure patients, using the Georgia Clinical & Translational Science Alliance infrastructure.