Amanda Thompson

Amanda Thompson, PhD

Department of Nutrition
Department of Anthropology
301 Alumni Building
CB# 3115
University of North Carolina
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3115


I am a human biologist specializing in human growth and nutrition. I focus on the biological pathways linking early life social, behavioral and physical environments to the development of obesity and chronic disease across a range of national and international settings, including North Carolina, China, and Ecuador. I am particularly interested in how early life nutrition and environmental exposures shape long-term health and obesity risk.

My research combines laboratory, anthropological and epidemiological approaches to examine the effects of local environments in shaping human growth and development early in life and their lasting impacts on health and well-being throughout the lifespan. My work focuses on: the effects of early diet on the development of the intestinal microbiome as an underlying pathway linking infant feeding and the development of obesity; the structural, social, maternal and infant characteristics contributing to the development of an obesogenic environment; and the physical and social environments associated with the development of inflammation in children, adolescents, and adults. 

Research Activities

  • Biomedical anthropology
  • Nutrition
  • Human biology
  • Early life determinants of body composition and obesity
  • Infant and child feeding

Key Publications

Milk- and solid-feeding practices and daycare attendance are associated with differences in bacterial diversity, predominant communities, and metabolic and immune function of the infant gut microbiome. Thompson, A.L., A. Monteagudo-Mera, M. B. Cadenas, M. Lampl, and M. A. Azcarate-Peril (2015). Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology, 5(3), doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2015.00003.

"Whatever average is:" understanding African-American mothers’ perceptions of infant weight, growth and health. Thompson, AL, LS Adair, and ME Bentley (2014). Current Anthropology, 55(3), 348-355.

Associations between Pathogenic and Obesogenic Factors and Inflammation in Chinese children, adolescents, and adults. Thompson, AL, KM Houck, LS Adair, P Gordon-Larsen, S Du, B Zhang, and BM Popkin (2014). American Journal of Human Biology, 26(1), 18-28.

The critical period of infant feeding for the development of early disparities in obesity. Thompson, AL and ME Bentley (2013). Social Science and Medicine, 97(Nov), 288-296..

Intergenerational impact of maternal obesity and postnatal feeding practices on pediatric obesity. Thompson, AL (2013). Nutrition Reviews, 71(Suppl 1), S55-S61.

Beyond the Paleolithic Prescription: Incorporating diversity and flexibility in the study of human diet evolution. Turner, BL and AL Thompson (2013). Nutrition Reviews, 71(8), 501-510 (lead article).

Pressuring and restrictive feeding styles influence infant feeding and size among a low-income African-American sample. Thompson, AL, LS Adair and ME Bentley (2013). Obesity, 21(3), 532-571.

Maternal characteristics and perception of infant temperament associated with television exposure in African-American infants. Thompson, AL, LS Adair, and ME Bentley (2013). Pediatrics, 131(2), e390-e397.

Developmental origins of obesity: early feeding environments, infant growth and the intestinal microbiome. Thompson, AL (2012). American Journal of Human Biology, 24(3), 350-360.


  • PhD, Anthropology, Emory University, 2007
  • MPH, Public Nutrition/Global Health, Emory University, 2007