Effective prevention and intervention approaches to the childhood obesity epidemic are needed. We study how social influences on eating behavior and children's cognitions around food may alter dietary composition and obesity risk, particularly in preschool-aged children and younger.
Additional study topics of interest include how peer influence of food choice operates in children of diverse ethnicity and socioeconomic status. We study children's eating behavior in Head Start settings, both through the direct observation of behavior and through the presentation of unique behavioral tasks to children that test their cognitions around food.
We also examine influences on young children's overweight risk through the analysis of existing data sets, with a particular focus on child care experience and quality, as well as neighborhood and family characteristics. Other projects include the evaluation of mother-child interactions around eating, and how maternal behavior affects a child's eating behavior, both in preschoolers and infants.