Dianne Ward

Promoting healthy child weight

Promoting healthy child weight

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Dianne Ward, EDD

Professor, Nutrition


Dr. Ward’s research focuses on preventing childhood obesity through home, school and community interventions that promote physical activity and healthy eating in children and families. As the principal investigator (PI) or Co-PI for a number of research studies exploring the environmental determinants of obesity, Dr. Ward has led the testing of multiple interventions to prevent obesity in both children and families through the promotion of healthy eating and/or physical activity. Read More

Dr. Ward led the team that developed The Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care, (NAP SACC), a policy and environmental intervention for child care settings. This highly regarded program is used widely throughout the country and has been so successful that Dr. Ward was invited to help develop the First Lady’s Let’s Move! Initiative which promotes healthy weight development in child care settings.

Currently, Dr. Ward is PI for three NIH projects related to her work in child care settings. “Healthy You, Healthy Home, Healthy Business” tests an intervention to improve nutrition and physical activity for children cared for in family child care homes.  “Care2BWell” is a worksite intervention to improve the physical activity levels of child care workers. Finally, “Our Year of Healthy Living” will link child care to home in an effort to improve children’s diets and activity.   Additionally, Dr. Ward recently completed NIH-funded projects, one that assessed the impact of parenting programs on child weight and another that assessed home food and physical activity environments. Understanding the determinants of physical activity in youth and exploring measurement issues involved in the study of physical activity are important components of her work.

Dr. Ward is the part of the Intervention and Policy Division in the Department of Nutrition, and a Fellow of the UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, and the UNC Highway Safety Research Center. In 2013, she received the Montoye Scholar Award from the Southeast Chapter of the American College of Sports Medicine, and was named the Distinguished Alumni Award from the School of Health and Human Performance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2001.

Active Projects

  • Care2bWell: A Worksite Physical Activity & Wellness Program for Child Care Staff
  • Our Year of Healthy Living: A social marketing intervention for child care & home
  • The Business of Childcare Homes & Child Health: Innovations for Nurturing Growth
  • Evaluation of Go NAP SACC, a Web-based Tool Based on the NAP SACC (Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care)
  • Impact of a Veggie Van Program to Increase Access to Fresh Fruits and Vegetables in Lower-Income and Underserved Communities
  • NIAMS Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center


  • United States



2202 McGavran-Greenberg Hall, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health
Campus Box 7461
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7461