Nutrition Research

Our Research strengths in North Carolina and across the globe include:

Nigerian women participate in breastfeeding research conducted by Dr. Valerie Flax and Dr. Peggy Bentley.

  • Obesity and related conditions including diabetes, heart disease and some cancers;
  • Role of nutrition and physical activity in preventing and treating disease in diverse populations;
  • Population trends in diet;
  • Influence of nutrients on the immune response to infectious disease, including gene-nutrient interactions and the development of cancer;
  • Relationships between obesity, environment, infection and diabetes; and
  • Role of agriculture and food systems in increasing food access, improving dietary intake and promoting economic development.

Our ultimate goal is to find solutions and produce research and intervention techniques that improve the health of people everywhere. Our faculty train students in nutritional sciences, clinical nutrition and public health to become global leaders and policy makers in their fields. They participate in a broad range of research in the physiological, biochemical, and behavioral aspects of nutrition and their respective practical applications. Our areas of focus are balanced by a commitment to research that improves the health of minority and underserved global populations.

Our Research Areas


Dr. Makowski (right) works in her lab with a BSPH student.

Identifying patterns in obesity and physical activity that influence the risk of developing and surviving various forms of the disease.

Cardiovascular Disease and Metabolic Syndrome
Focusing on lipid metabolism and molecular manipulation for prevention and treatment in high-risk populations.

Preventing and treating Type 2 Diabetes in high-risk populations, and study Type 1 Diabetes in youth to improve their quality of life

Health Behavior
Including socioeconomic, psychosocial, and behavioral issues related to obesity prevention, weight management and disease risk reduction.

Immune Function and Infectious Disease
Exploring relationships between host nutrition, immunity, and response to infectious diseases, and studying toxic trace elements to identify molecular, genetic, and metabolic risk factors.

Maternal and Child Nutrition
Focusing on nutritional status of low-income mothers, fetal development, breastfeeding, and key nutrients in infant/toddler development.


Investigating childhood obesity, school and community nutrition policies, and translational research from lab to community regarding obesity’s influence on immune responses.

Department of Nutrition 2016 Publications

Last updated: May 2016. For more publications from the Department of Nutrition, visit REACH NC.

Author(s)Publication TitleLink to Full TextJournalPublication YearAltMetric ID
Zang, J. & Ng, S. W.Age, period and cohort effects on adult physical activity levels from 1991 to 2011 in ChinaFull TextInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity2016
Sally Lawrence Bullock ; Stephanie B. Jilcott Pitts ; Barb Listenfelt ; Jared T. McGuirt ; Karen Stanley ; Diane Beth ; Mary Bea Kolbe ; Jill Rushing ; Qiang Wu ; Rachel K. Ward ; Mariel Leah Mayo Acheson ; Ciarra J M Dortche ; Alice S. AmmermanAvailability of Farmers’ Markets and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program/Electronic Benefit Transfer Systems and Associations With Rurality, Poverty, Race/Ethnicity, and Obesity Among North Carolina CountiesFull TextJournal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition2016
Shaun K. Riebl ; Carly MacDougal ; Catelyn Hill ; Paul A. Estabrooks ; Julie C. Dunsmore ; Jyoti Savla ; Madlyn I. Frisard ; Andrea M. Dietrich ; Brenda M. DavyBeverage Choices of Adolescents and Their Parents Using the Theory of Planned Behavior: A Mixed Methods AnalysisFull TextJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, December 20152016
M Arantxa Colchero, Barry M Popkin, Juan A Rivera, Shu Wen Ng, Colchero, M Arantxa, Popkin, Barry M, Rivera, Juan A, Ng, Shu WenBeverage purchases from stores in Mexico under the excise tax on sugar sweetened beverages: observational studyFull TextBritish Medical Journal2016
Wright, Melecia J, Mendez, Michelle A, Bentley, Margaret E, Adair, Linda SBreastfeeding modifies the impact of diarrhoeal disease on relative weight: a longitudinal analysis of 2-12 month-old Filipino infantsFull TextMaternal & Child Nutrition2016
Johnson, Amy R, Wilkerson, Matthew D, Sampey, Brante P, Troester, Melissa A, Hayes, D Neil, Makowski, LizaCafeteria diet-induced obesity causes oxidative damage in white adiposeFull TextBiochemical & Biophysical Research Communications2016
Baharan Fekry ; Amin Esmaeilniakooshkghazi ; Sergey A. Krupenko ; Natalia I. KrupenkoCeramide synthase 6 is a novel target of methotrexate mediating its antiproliferative effect in a p53-dependent mannerFull TextPLoS ONE2016
Yeo, SeonAe, Samuel-Hodge, Carmen D, Smith, Rachael, Leeman, Jennifer, Ferraro, Amanda M, Asafu-Adjei, Josephine K, Samuel‐Hodge, Carmen D., Ferraro, Amanda M., Asafu‐Adjei, Josephine K.Challenges of Integrating an Evidence-based Intervention in Health Departments to Prevent Excessive Gestational Weight Gain among Low-income WomenFull TextPublic Health Nursing2016
Michelle A. Mendez ; Carmen González-Horta ; Blanca Sánchez-Ramírez ; Lourdes Ballinas-Casarrubias ; Roberto Hernández Cerón ; Damián Viniegra Morales ; Francisco A. Baeza Terrazas ; María C. Ishida ; Daniela S. Gutiérrez-Torres ; R. Jesse Saunders ; Zuzana Drobná ; Rebecca C. Fry ; John B. Buse ; Dana Loomis ; Gonzalo G. García-Vargas ; Luz M. Del Razo ; Miroslav StýbloChronic exposure to arsenic and markers of cardiometabolic risk: A cross-sectional study in Chihuahua, MexicoFull TextEnvironmental Health Perspectives2016
Alyssa J. Cozzo ; Sneha Sundaram ; Ottavia Zattra ; Yuanyuan Qin ; Alex J. Freemerman ; Luma Essaid ; David B. Darr ; Stephanie A. Montgomery ; Kirk K. McNaughton ; J. Ashley Ezzell ; Joseph A. Galanko ; Melissa A. Troester ; Liza MakowskicMET inhibitor crizotinib impairs angiogenesis and reduces tumor burden in the C3(1)-Tag model of basal-like breast cancerFull TextSpringerPlus2016
Alexandra J. White, Patrick T. Bradshaw, Amy H. Herring, Susan L. Teitelbaum, Jan Beyea, Steven D. Stellman, Susan E. Steck, Irina Mordukhovich, Sybil M. Eng, Lawrence S. Engel, Kathleen Conway, Maureen Hatch, Alfred I. Neugut, Regina M. Santella, Marilie D. Gammon, White, Alexandra J, Bradshaw, Patrick T, Herring, Amy H, Teitelbaum, Susan L, Beyea, Jan, Stellman, Steven D, Steck, Susan E, Mordukhovich, Irina, Eng, Sybil M, Engel, Lawrence S, Conway, Kathleen, Hatch, Maureen, Neugut, Alfred I, Santella, Regina M, Gammon, Marilie DExposure to multiple sources of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and breast cancer incidenceFull TextEnvironment International2016
Kavle, Justine A., Flax, Valerie L., Abdelmegeid, Ali, Salah, Farouk, Hafez, Seham, Ramzy, Magda, Hamed, Doaa, Saleh, Gulsen, Galloway, RaeFactors associated with early growth in Egyptian infants: implications for addressing the dual burden of malnutritionFull TextMaternal & Child Nutrition2016
Florencia Pascual ; Rosalind A. ColemanFuel availability and fate in cardiac metabolism: A tale of two substratesFull TextBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids2016
Lindsey Smith Taillie, Shu Wen Ng, Barry M. PopkinGlobal growth of “big box” stores and the potential impact on human health and nutritionFull TextNutrition Reviews2016
Flax, Valerie L., Ibrahim, Alawiyatu Usman, Negerie, Mekebeb, Yakubu, Danjuma, Leatherman, Sheila, Bentley, Margaret E.Group cell phones are feasible and acceptable for promoting optimal breastfeeding practices in a women's microcredit program in NigeriaFull TextMaternal & Child Nutrition2016
Zinkel, S. R. J., Berkowitz, R. I., Stunkard, A. J., Stallings, V. A., Faith, M., Thomas, D, Schoeller, D. A.High energy expenditure is not protective against increased adiposity in childrenFull TextInternational Journal of Pediatric Obesity2016
Valerie L. Flax ; Gloria Hamela ; Innocent Mofolo ; Mina C. Hosseinipour ; Irving Hoffman ; Suzanne MamanInfant and Young Child Feeding Counseling, Decision-Making, and Practices Among HIV-Infected Women in Malawi’s Option B+ Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission Program: A Mixed Methods StudyFull TextAIDS and Behavior2016
Lauren E. McCullough, Erline E. Miller, Michelle A. Mendez, Amy P. Murtha, Susan K. Murphy, Cathrine Hoyo, McCullough, Lauren E, Miller, Erline E, Mendez, Michelle A, Murtha, Amy P, Murphy, Susan K, Hoyo, CathrineMaternal B vitamins: effects on offspring weight and DNA methylation at genomically imprinted domains.Full TextClinical Epigenetics2016
Julvez, Jordi, Méndez, Michelle, Fernandez-Barres, Silvia, Romaguera, Dora, Vioque, Jesus, Llop, Sabrina, Ibarluzea, Jesus, Guxens, Monica, Avella-Garcia, Claudia, Tardón, Adonina, Riaño, Isolina, Andiarena, Ainara, Robinson, Oliver, Arija, Victoria, Esnaola, Mikel, Ballester, Ferran, Sunyer, Jordi, Jordi Julvez, Michelle Méndez, Silvia Fernandez-Barres, Dora Romaguera, Jesus Vioque, Sabrina Llop, Jesus Ibarluzea, Monica Guxens, Claudia Avella-Garcia, Adonina Tardón, Isolina Riaño, Ainara Andiarena, Oliver Robinson, Victoria Arija, Mikel Esnaola, Ferran Ballester, Jordi SunyerMaternal Consumption of Seafood in Pregnancy and Child Neuropsychological Development: A Longitudinal Study Based on a Population With High Consumption LevelsFull TextAmerican Journal of Epidemiology2016
Wang, Yanyan, Surzenko, Natalia, Friday, Walter B, Zeisel, Steven HMaternal dietary intake of choline in mice regulates development of the cerebral cortex in the offspring.Full TextFASEB Journal2016
May, Philip A, Hamrick, Kari J, Corbin, Karen D, Hasken, Julie M, Marais, Anna-Susan, Blankenship, Jason, Hoyme, H Eugene, Gossage, J PhillipMaternal Nutritional Status as a Contributing Factor for the Risk of Alcohol Spectrum DisordersFull TextReproductive Toxicology2016
Torres, AnnMarie, Makowski, Liza, Wellen, Kathryn E, AnnMarie Torres, Liza Makowski, Kathryn E WellenMetabolism fine-tunes macrophage activationFull TexteLife2016
Jennifer R Gilbert, Kyle S BurgerNeuroadaptive processes associated with palatable food intake: present data and future directionsFull TextCurrent Opinion in Behavioral Sciences2016
Torbjörn K. Nilsson ; Anita Hurtig-Wennlöf ; Michael Sjöström ; Wolfgang Herrmann ; Rima Obeid ; Jennifer R. Owen ; Steven ZeiselPlasma 1-carbon metabolites and academic achievement in 15-yr-old adolescentsFull TextFASEB Journal2016
Jayeon Kim, Jennifer E. Mersereau, Nikhil Khankari, Patrick T. Bradshaw, Lauren E. McCullough, Rebecca Cleveland, Sumitra Shantakumar, Susan L. Teitelbuam, Alfred I. Neugut, Ruby T. Senie, Marilie D. GammonPolycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), related symptoms/sequelae, and breast cancer risk in a population-based case-control studyFull TextCancer Causes and Control2016
Buckley, Jessie P, Engel, Stephanie M, Braun, Joseph M, Whyatt, Robin M, Daniels, Julie L, Mendez, Michelle A, Richardson, David B, Xu, Yingying, Calafat, Antonia M, Wolff, Mary S, Lanphear, Bruce P, Herring, Amy H, Rundle, Andrew GPrenatal phthalate exposures and body mass index among 4 to 7 year old children: A pooled analysis.Full TextEpidemiology2016
Benjamin Neelon, S. E., Østbye, T., Hales, D., Vaughn, A., Ward, D. S.Preventing childhood obesity in early care and education settings: lessons from two intervention studiesFull TextChild: Care, Health & Development2016
Lundeen, E. A., Norris, S. A., Adair, L. S., Richter, L. M., Stein, A. D., Lundeen, E A, Norris, S A, Adair, L S, Richter, L M, Stein, A DSex differences in obesity incidence: 20‐year prospective cohort in South AfricaFull TextInternational Journal of Pediatric Obesity2016
M. A. Mendez ; D. Sotres-Alvarez ; D. R. Miles ; M. M. Slining ; B. M. PopkinShifts in the recent distribution of energy intake among U.S. children aged 2-18 years reflect potential abatement of earlier declining trendsFull TextWorld Review of Nutrition and Dietetics2016
Ford, C. N., Poti, J. M., Ng, S. W., Popkin, B. M.SSB taxes and diet quality in US preschoolers: estimated changes in the 2010 Healthy Eating IndexFull TextInternational Journal of Pediatric Obesity2016
Popkin, Barry M, Hawkes, Corinna, Barry M Popkin, Corinna HawkesSweetening of the global diet, particularly beverages: patterns, trends, and policy responsesFull TextThe Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology2016
Youssef W. Naguib, Dharmika Lansakara-P., Laura M. Lashinger, B. Leticia Rodriguez, Solange Valdes, Mengmeng Niu, Abdulaziz M. Aldayel, Lan Peng, Stephen D. Hursting, Zhengrong CuiSynthesis, Characterization, and In Vitro and In Vivo Evaluations of 4-(N)-Docosahexaenoyl 2′, 2′-Difluorodeoxycytidine with Potent and Broad-Spectrum Antitumor ActivityFull TextNeoplasia2016
Ford, C. N., Ng, S. W., Popkin, B. M.Ten‐year beverage intake trends among US preschool children: rapid declines between 2003 and 2010 but stagnancy in recent yearsFull TextInternational Journal of Pediatric Obesity2016
May, Philip A, de Vries, Marlene M, Marais, Anna-Susan, Kalberg, Wendy O, Adnams, Colleen M, Hasken, Julie M, Tabachnick, Barbara, Robinson, Luther K, Manning, Melanie A, Jones, Kenneth Lyons, Hoyme, Derek, Seedat, Soraya, Parry, Charles D H, Hoyme, H EugeneThe continuum of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in four rural communities in south africa: Prevalence and characteristics.Full TextDrug & Alcohol Dependence2016
Amy K. Mottl, Jasmin Divers, Dana Dabelea, David M. Maahs, Lawrence Dolan, David Pettitt, Santica Marcovina, Giuseppina Imperatore, Catherine Pihoker, Michael Mauer, Elizabeth J. Mayer-Davis, for the SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth Study, Mottl, Amy K, Divers, Jasmin, Dabelea, Dana, Maahs, David M, Dolan, Lawrence, Pettitt, David, Marcovina, Santica, Imperatore, Giuseppina, Pihoker, Catherine, Mauer, Michael, Mayer-Davis, Elizabeth JThe dose–response effect of insulin sensitivity on albuminuria in children according to diabetes typeFull TextPediatric Nephrology2016
Fidelia A A Dake ; Amanda L. Thompson ; Shu Wen Ng ; Samuel Agyei-Mensah ; Samuel N A CodjoeThe Local Food Environment and Body Mass Index among the Urban Poor in Accra, GhanaFull Text Journal of Urban Health2016
Stern, Dalia, Ng, Shu Wen, Popkin, Barry MThe Nutrient Content of U.S. Household Food Purchases by Store TypeFull TextAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine2016
Melissa M. Crane, Dianne S. Ward, Lesley D. Lutes, J. Michael Bowling, Deborah F. TateTheoretical and Behavioral Mediators of a Weight Loss Intervention for MenFull TextAnnals of Behavioral Medicine2016
Daniela Hampel ; Setareh Shahab-Ferdows ; Linda S. Adair ; Margaret E. Bentley ; Valerie L. Flax ; Denise J. Jamieson ; Sascha R. Ellington ; Gerald Tegha ; Charles S. Chasela ; Debbie Kamwendo ; Lindsay H. AllenThiamin and riboflavin in human milk: Effects of lipid-based nutrient supplementation and stage of lactation on vitamer secretion and contributions to total vitamin contentFull TextPLoS ONE2016
Carolina Batis ; Michelle A. Mendez ; Penny Gordon-Larsen ; Daniela Sotres-Alvarez ; Linda Adair ; Barry PopkinUsing both principal component analysis and reduced rank regression to study dietary patterns and diabetes in Chinese adultsFull TextPublic Health Nutrition2016
Geetha Chittoor ; Nicholas M. Pajewski ; V. Saroja Voruganti ; Anthony G. Comuzzie ; Thomas B. Clarkson ; Matthew Nudy ; Peter F. Schnatz ; Jay R. Kaplan ; Matthew J. JorgensenVitamin D heritability and effect of pregnancy status in Vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops sabaeus) under conditions of modest and high dietary supplementationFull TextAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology2016
Taillie, Lindsey Smith, Ng, Shu Wen, Popkin, Barry MWalmart and Other Food Retail Chains: Trends and Disparities in the Nutritional Profile of Packaged Food PurchasesFull TextAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine2016
Stern, Dalia, Poti, Jennifer M, Ng, Shu Wen, Robinson, Whitney R, Gordon-Larsen, Penny, Popkin, Barry M, Dalia Stern, Jennifer M Poti, Shu Wen Ng, Whitney R Robinson, Penny Gordon-Larsen, Barry M PopkinWhere people shop is not associated with the nutrient quality of packaged foods for any racial-ethnic group in the United StatesFull TextAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition2016

Other Research Resources

Read a more detailed description of faculty research interests on the Research Interests page.

Nutrition Department Faculty Profiles and Research Interests

Nutrition Research Institute (NRI)

UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center (NORC)