Featured Profile: Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer, PhD, MPH, RD Photo

Dianne Neumark-Sztainer is a Professor in the Division of Epidemiology and Community Health, School of Public Health and an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, both at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on adolescent nutrition and the prevention of weight-related problems including eating disorders, unhealthy weight control behaviors, body dissatisfaction and obesity. She has been the Principal Investigator on all of the Project EAT studies including a 10-year longitudinal study of eating and activity in adolescents and young adults and, more recently, an ecological study of individual, family, peer, school, and neighborhood correlates of weight-related outcomes in youth. Dr. Neumark-Sztainer has published over 300 articles in scientific journals and a book for parents of adolescents entitled: “I’m, like, SO, fat!” Helping your teen make healthy choices about eating and exercise in a weight-obsessed world.  Dr. Neumark-Sztainer is involved in outreach work aimed at the prevention of eating disorders and obesity via presentations at scientific meetings, community presentations, and media interviews. Dr. Neumark-Sztainer has received awards for her work in eating disorders from the National Eating Disorders Association, the Academy for Eating Disorders,and the Eating Disorders Coalition. She has also received a number of awards from the University of Minnesota for her research, mentoring, and teaching.

The New Moves program was developed for adolescent girls in high school. The program could be adapted to other settings that reach adolescent girls such as community centers, camps, and health clinics.  I also think the program could work nicely for middle school girls. It is hard to say how effective the program will be if modified from its current form or offered to other audiences, but it is certainly worth trying and doing at least some type of evaluation to measure the effectiveness.

New Moves has continued to be implemented following the end of the research study. We conducted an evaluation of the types of factors that facilitated implementation and also those that served as challenges. The main factor leading to program continuation was the strong sense, among physical education teachers, that New Moves met the girls' needs. Challenges include time and resources within school settings. We are currently evaluating the data from this follow-up study to learn more about the facilitators and the challenges.

My main advice is to be supportive of the girls. It is so hard to be a teenage girl and feel good about one's body. So do everything that you can to help girls feel better about themselves. We have posted all of our intervention materials and evaluation tools on the New Moves website at www.newmovesonline.com. I strongly encourage anyone interested in implementing all, or part, of the program to go to the website.

I am currently looking at large datasets from Project EAT (Eating and Activity in Teens and Young Adults) in order to learn more about the eating patterns, physical activity, and weight-related problems in young people. We have 10-year longitudinal data on over 2000 young people as they transitioned from adolescence to young adulthood. We hope to continue to follow these young people as they have their own children to learn more about intergenerational eating patterns. We also have another multi-level data set on 2800 diverse adolescents in which we collected data from youth and their parents, friends, schools, and neighborhoods. From this data set we are learning about disparities in weight-related problems in youth across ethnicity/race and socio-economic status. These studies are teaching us about body image, family meals, eating patterns, physical and sedentary activity, obesity, and other timely areas of interest and guide the intervention work of many people working with youth. We are also thinking about ways to adapt New Moves to different settings to reach out beyond the school. Our ultimate aim is to improve the health of youth.

Updated: 03/05/2020 05:01:46