Southeast Area Office
Delta Human Nutrition Research Program
141 Experiment Station Road
Stoneville, MS 38776
PhD, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, 2002
MS, University of Southwestern Louisiana, 1999
BS, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, 1988
2011-present, Research Epidemiologist, USDA ARS, Southeast Area Office, Delta Human Nutrition Research Program, Stoneville MS
2006-2011, Research Epidemiologist, USDA ARS, Southern Regional Research Center (SRRC), Food Processing and Sensory Quality Research Unit, New Orleans LA
2002-2006, Assistant Professor, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC), School of Public Health, New Orleans LA
Adolescent and Adult Perceptions of Their Diet Quality
Diet quality is improving in some US populations and awareness of recommendations for healthful eating may be increasing. Yet whether US adolescents and adults can accurately assess their diet quality is not clear. My colleagues and I analyzed data from nationally representative samples of US adolescents (16-19 years of age) and adults (20+ years of age) from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2015-2018.
We determined that only 12% of adolescents and 15% of adults can accurately assess the quality of their diet, mostly those who perceived the healthfulness of their diet as poor. Additionally, almost all adolescents and adults who inaccurately assessed their diet quality, overrated their diet quality, sometimes to a substantial degree. Although diet quality scores increased as adolescents' and adults' perception of the healthfulness of their diet increased, approximately 85% of adolescents and 70% of adults scored failing grades for measured diet quality. Thus, the tendency of adolescents and adults to overrate the healthfulness of their diet suggests that work is needed to educate US adolescents and adults about components of healthful dietary intake.
Patterns of Food Parenting Practices
Parental child feeding practices (e.g., pressure to eat, monitoring, encouragement) affect children's food preferences, intake patterns, self-regulation of food intake, and weight status. Effects of food parenting practices are important because US adolescents typically do not meet recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption and exceed recommendations for consumption for added sugars (e.g., junk food and sugary drinks). My colleagues and I analyzed data from over 1,500 parent-adolescent dyads who participated in the Family Life, Activity, Sun, Health and Eating Study and identified 5 patterns of parenting practices regarding fruits and vegetables and 5 patterns regarding junk food and sugary drinks.
Photo courtesy of the National Cancer Institute via Unsplash.com.
Patterns ranged from use of all 6 parenting practices, use of some practices, to no practice use and parent and adolescent reports were generally in agreement for all but one of the patterns in each food group. Additionally, patterns were associated with parent (sex) and adolescent (age, sex) demographic characteristics, dietary intake, and legitimacy of parental authority (belief that parents have the right to set rules about their children's food intake). Counseling or intervening with parents to use a mix of structure and autonomy practices, such as modeling, availability, and child involvement, to positively influence their children's and possibly their own dietary intake may prove more efficacious than use of coercive control practices, such as pressure to eat and restriction.
Patterns of Physical Activity and Screen Time Parenting Practices
Parents can influence their children’s physical activity and sedentary behaviors through the practices they use to support, encourage, and promote engagement in physical activity as well as to limit screen. Effects of physical activity and screen time parenting practices are important because US adolescents typically do not meet recommendations for physical activity and exceed recommendations for screen time. My colleagues and I analyzed data from over 1,100 parent-adolescent dyads who participated in the Family Life, Activity, Sun, Health and Eating Study and identified 4 patterns of parenting practices regarding physical activity and 5 patterns regarding screen time. For physical activity, patterns ranged from use of all 5 parenting practices, use of some practices, to no practice use and parent and adolescent reports were generally in agreement. Similarly, for screen time, patterns ranged from use of
Photo courtesy of Juan Cruz via Unsplash.com.
all 6 parenting practices, use of some practices, to no practice use and parent and adolescent reports were generally in agreement for all but one of the patterns. Additionally, physical activity patterns were associated with adolescent age, and parent and adolescent body mass index, physical activity, and legitimacy of parental authority (belief that parents have the right to set rules about their children's behavior). Screen time patterns were associated with adolescent age, sex, body mass index, and sedentary behaviors and parent and adolescent legitimacy of parental authority. Advocating for parental use of combinations of physical activity and screen time parenting practices, such as modeling and monitoring, may prove more beneficial to adolescent health behaviors than use of pressuring and permissive practices or no practice use.
Service, Leadership & Professional Activities
Data Safety Monitoring Board, Tufts University, 2022-present
Data Safety Monitoring Board, University of Illinois at Chicago, 2022-present
Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Board of Editors, 2020-present
American Journal of Health Promotion, Board of Editors, 2014-present
American Society for Nutrition, Member, 2013-present
American Statistical Association, Member, 2002-present
American Statistical Association SPAIG Committee, Appointed Member 2009-2014
Honors, Awards, Achievement & Recognition
Outstanding Early Career Research Scientist, USDA ARS SRRC, 2011
Spot Award, USDA ARS Delta Obesity Prevention Research Unit, 2011
Featured as Up-and-Coming Statistician, AmStat News, Sep 2008
Allen A Coping Excellence in Teaching Award, LSUHSC School of Public Health, 2005