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Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity Lab (BNPAL)

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Current Students

Doctoral Students

Divya Patel (2020-2023)
Graduate Research Assistant
First Major Project title: Effect of Early Care and Education Intervention on head Start and Venter-Based Program Menu Quality
Second Major Project title: TBD
Dissertation project title: TBD

Stephanie DeBerry (2019-2024)
First major project title: Canned and Frozen Vegetable Sales in Oklahoma
Second major project title: TBD
Dissertation Title: TBD

Bethany Williams (2017-2020)
Graduate Research Assistant
Assistant Lab Director (2017-2020)
First major project title: Influence of Parenting Style and Children’s Health-Enhancing Behaviors on Children’s Adiposity
Second major project title: Assessment of Nutrition Practices and Barriers Across CACFP and Non-CACFP Programs in Varying Childcare Arrangements
Dissertation Title: Association Between Health-Enhancing Community Environment and Early Childhood Education Classroom Health Practices

Ruth Rasmussen (2018 - 2022)
First major project title: The Relationship of Dietary Access and Parental Feeding Practices on the Dietary Intake of Children
Second major project title: TBD
Dissertation Title: TBD

Master Students

Quen’a Johnson (2020-2022)
Thesis Title: TBD

Linda Herrera (2020-2022)
Graduate Research Assistant
Thesis Title: Understanding Food Insecurity in Professional and Graduate Students with Families

Morgan Voight (2020-2022)
Graduate Research Assistant
Thesis Title: Behavioral, Psychological, and Family Characteristics of Pediatric Weight Management Clinic

Patrick Stauner (2019-2020)
Thesis title: Relationship Between Inflammatory diet, exercise, and osteocalcin across adolescents with normal and dysregulated insulin function

Emily Stinner (2018 - 2020)
Graduate Research Assistant
Thesis title: Relationship of Sleep and Obesogenic Behaviors: A 24-Hour Movement Study

Affiliated Lab Students

Abigail Lange
Project title: Predictors of Food Insecurity on an Academic Health Campus

Suzy Morris
Graduate Research Assistant

Madeline VanCuren
Graduate research Assistant

Undergraduate Students

Currently no undergraduate students.

Former Students

Doctoral Students

Chelsea Smith Kracht (2015 - 2018)
Assistant Lab Director (2016-2017)
Graduate Research Assistant
First major project title: Association of Parental Anxiety and Depression and Parental Feeding and Obesogenic Parenting Practices
Dissertation Title: Sibling Influence on Subsiding Behaviors Related to Obesity

Michelle Dennison-Farris, PhD, RD (2012-2016)
First major project title: Assessment of Sugar Sweetened Beverage Intake, Physical Activity Behaviors, and BMI in Native American Children in Oklahoma
Second major project title: Obesogenic Behaviors and Depression in Native American Preadolescent Children
Dissertation Title: Association Between Depressive Symptoms, Obesegenic Behaviors, and Cardiometabolic Health of Preadolescent Children

Katy Swyden, MS, RD (2013-2016)
Assistant Lab Director (2015 - 2016)
Graduate Research Assistant (2013 - 2015)
First major project title: Relationship Between Parental Concern and Perception of Child Weight and Obesogenic Parenting Practices
Second major project title: Association Between Maternal Stress, Work Status and Feeding Practices Among Preschool Children
Dissertation Title: Family Structure as Moderator of Family Meal Frequency: 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health

 

Master Students

Colette Vartanian (2017-2019)
Graduate Research Assistant
Thesis title: The Maternal Factor: The Influence of Maternal Health and Behavior on Family Health Practices

Holly Davis (2018 - 2020)
Graduate Research Assistant
Thesis title: Grocery Store Access and Quality Relationship with Family Child Care Homes Provider Nutrition Self-Efficacy, Knowledge and Fresh Produce Service

Sarah Patel (2018-2020)
Graduate Research Assistant
Thesis title: Influences of Providers' Nutrition Knowledge and Self-Efficacy on the Nutrition Policies and Practices of Oklahoma Family Child Care Homes 

Hope Hetrick (2018-2020)
Graduate Research Assistant
Thesis title: Menu Quality and CACFP Compliance in Family Child Care Homes in Oklahoma

Melissa Henniger (2018-2020)
Thesis title: Assessing Food Security and Food Pantry Needs on an Academic Health Campus

Catherine Grantham (2017-2019)
Thesis title: A Study of the Food Desert and Food Swamp Status of Child Care Centers and Family Child Care Homes in the State of Oklahoma

Sara Fortin-Miller (2017-2019)
Graduate Research Assistant
Thesis title: The Effect of Food Desert and Food Swamp Status on Family Child Care Home Meal Quality

Kaysha Sleet (2017-2019)
Graduate Research Assistant
Thesis title: Teaching Teachers: The Impact of Staff Feeding Behaviors Training on Staff Feeding Behaviors in Rural Tribally-Affiliated Early Care and Education Centers

Ashley Brice, RD (2015-2017)
Thesis Title: Family Child Care Home Provider Experiences with Child Nutrition

Devon Walker, RD, MS (2015-2017)
Graduate Research Assistant
Study Coordinator, Obesity Prevention Action Plan
Thesis Title: Obesity Prevention in Early Childhood: Statewide Assessment and Development of Action Plan

Diana Wiley, MS (2014 - 2016)
Project Title: Integration of Nutrition Education into Interdisciplinary Preschool Program of Children with Communication Disorders

Alexandria Benear, MS, RD (2013-2015)
Thesis Title: Preschooler Physical Activity and Sedentary Time and Access to Outdoors and TV at Child Care

Megan Krampe, MS , RD(2013-2015)
Thesis Title: Difference in Dietary Intake at Child Care by Age, Sex, & Obesity Status

Alicia Nelson, MS (2014-2016) 
Graduate Research Assistant 
Thesis Title: Difference in Food Consumption Between Child Care and Home in Young Children

Katherine Anundson, MS, RD (2014-2016)
Graduate Research Assistant 
Thesis Title: The Role of Staff Behaviors on Dietary Intake in Young Children

Andrea Knowlton, MS, RD (2012-2014)
Graduate Research Assistant
Study Center Liason: Evaluation of Classroom Assessments for Obesogenic Environments at Preschool
Thesis Title: The Association Between the Home Media Environment, Food Consumption, and Child Health

Joshua New, MS, RD (2013-2014)
Thesis Title: Association Between Motor Development Screening and Physical Activity Level in Preschool Children.

Cassie Veal, MS  (2012-2014)
Graduate Research Assistant
Thesis Title: Convergent Validity of Physical Activity Devices in Ambulatory Adults with Unilateral Transtibial Amputation

Leslie K. Sitton, MS, RD (2011-2013)
Measurement Coordinator: Child Care Influence on Health Outcomes in American Indian Preschoolers
Thesis Title: Body Fat and Dietary Fat: Effect on Postprandial Glucose and Lipid Metabolism in Adolescents

Ruth Adamiec, MS, RD (2011-2013)
Study Center Liaison: Child Care Influence on Health Outcomes in American Indian Preschoolers
Thesis Title: Assessing the Macronutrient and Micronutrient Intake of Children in Child Care Centers

Liz S. Ramey, MS, RD  (2010-2012)
Study Coordinator: Family Decision Making and Obesogenic Behaviors
Study Co-Coordinator: Sitting versus Light Activity and Cardiovascular Disease Risk: Influence of a High Fat Meal
Thesis Title: Family Attitudes and Beliefs Related to Family Dinners

Andrea M. Sellmeyer, MS, RD  (2010-2012)
Thesis Title: Family Physical Activity: Evidence from Family Interviews

Ashley E. Anderson, MS, RD (2010-2012)
Study Co-Coordinator: Sitting versus Light Activity and Cardiovascular Disease Risk: Influence of a High Fat Meal
Thesis Title: High Fat Diet and Endothelial Function in Adolescents

Ashley M. Frampton, MS, RD  (2010-2012)
Study Coordinator: Physical Activity During Pregnancy and Health Outcomes in Infants, Assessment of menus in Oklahoma child care centers
Thesis Title: Physical Activity during Pregnancy and Health Outcomes in Infants

Lauren N. Outhier, MS, RD  (2011-2012)
Thesis Title: Feeding practices and healthy eating support in urban and rural childcare centers

Kellie B. May, MS, RD  (2010-2012)
Study Coordinator: Assessment of Obesogenic Policies in Oklahoma Child Care Centers
Thesis Title: Staff Education and Healthy Eating in Child Care Centers

Mary Beth Mitchell, MS, RD (2009-2011)
Graduate Research Assistant
Thesis Title: Eating Patterns, Physical Activity, and TV Viewing in Children

Affiliated Lab Students

Megan Kish (2017-2018)
Project Title: Environmental Health in Family Child Care Homes

Seerat Nasir (2015)
Oklahoma Shared Clinical and Translational Resources Summer Scholar
Project Title: Difference in Home Food Availability Based on Child Weight Status

Chelsea Smith (2014-2015)
University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology
Thesis title: Influence of Ethnicity on Obesity, Physical Activity and Dietary Intake of Young Children in Child Care

Chelsea LaTorre (2013)
University of Oklahoma, Community Counseling
Project Title: Role of Family Structure in Obesogenic Behaviors

Colleen Hobbs (2012-2014)
University of Oklahoma, Department of Health and Exercise Science
Thesis Title: Daycare Directors’ Child Outdoor Playtime Policy during Varying Weather Conditions

Undergraduate Students

Jessica Valdes
Graduate Research Assistant

Daisy Butzer
Project Title: Cost- and Preference-Related Barriers to Healthful Nutrition Practices in Oklahoma Family Child Care Homes

Hannah Landreth (2012-2013)
Project Title: The Most Common Foods Grade-School Children Snack on While Watching Television

Welcome! 

Dr. Sisson conducts her research in the Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Laboratory in the Department of Nutritional Sciences at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Research in the lab focuses on promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors such as dietary intake, screen time, and physical activity in early childhood and with Early Care and Education programs to prevent lifetime chronic disease such as obesity, diabetes, and cancer. Policy, system, and environment interventions are of specific interest. Physical activity, nutrition, and sedentary behavior epidemiology are areas of expertise. Dr. Sisson actively collaborates with many Native American tribes and nations in Oklahoma.

Dr. Sisson’s personal and professional vision is to help others reach full potential and have opportunity for healthy growth and development. She works toward this vision by engaging in collaborative research to enhance health of young children, thoughtful mentorship of graduate students, and dedication to increasing the research impact of the College of Allied Health.            

It is the mission of the Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Laboratory to engage in high quality research and to develop the research, professional, analytical, critical-thinking, problem-solving, team-work and logistical skills of graduate student members.

Group Photo
2020 Behavioral Nutrition Physical Activity Lab – Flock of Flamingos

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20192018201720162015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011

Lab Director:
Susan Sisson, PhD, RDN, CHES, FACSM

Contact Information:

E-mail: susan-sisson@ouhsc.edu
E-mail: nutritionandactivitylab@ouhsc.edu
Office phone: 405 271-8001
Fax: 405 271-1560

Address:
College of Allied Health Department of Nutritional Sciences
1200 N Stonewall, Room 3057
College of Health Building
Oklahoma City, OK 73126-0901

Research Projects

Communities and Classroom Health Survey

Dates: September 2019 – September 2020

The purpose of this project is to understand to understand the relationship between the community around an ECE and classroom health quality and barriers, by program arrangement (Head Start, community based childcare, family childcare home). This project is supported by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS-2017-ACF-OPRE-YR-1219) and the OUHSC Department of Nutritional Sciences.

COVID-19 Impact on Health and Wellbeing of Early Care and Education Teachers

Dates: March 2020 – April 2021

The purpose of this project is to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the health behaviors and wellbeing of Early Care and Education Teachers.  This project is a collaborative effort with faculty from early childhood education, rehabilitation sciences,  and social work. This project is supported by Dr. Sisson’s clinical operating funds.

Wellness Across Traditional Community Health (WATCH): Program to Enhance Health of Young Children in Wyandotte Nation, Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, and Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes.

Dates: May 2018 – May 2019

The purpose of this project is to unite the early care and education programs and the health care providers in these tribal communities in North Eastern Oklahoma to enhance quality of nutrition and physical activity by engaging classroom curriculum and family outreach. This is a collaborative project to enhance community health and we partner with the Tribal Epidemiology Center and the Wyandotte Nation and Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma.  This program is supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Southern Plains Tribal Epidemiology Center

Exploring Food Insecurity Prevalence and Potential Interventions at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

Dates: August 2019 – December 2020

The purpose of this project is to examine prevalence of food insecurity among students, staff, and faculty at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center (OUHSC) and determine need for food assistance programs on campus. This study will add to the scientific literature as well as inform campus personnel regarding prevalence of food insecurity and viable solutions. This study is supported by the Department of Nutritional Sciences and the College of Allied Health Research and Creativity Grant.

Summaries:

Overall Campus Food Insecurity Summary Barriers to Campus Food Assistance Programs Summary Predictors of Food Insecurity in Campus staff Predictors of Food Insecurity in Campus Students

Food Resource Equity and Sustainability for Health (FRESH)

Dates: May 2017 – May 2019

The lab collaborates on this project, lead by Dr. Valerie Bluebird Jernigan in the College of Public Health.  The purpose of this project is to create healthier menus and meal times at tribally-affiliated early care and education centers.  This project is supported by The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Summaries:

Impact of Responsive Feeding Training  New CACFP Meal Pattern on Menu Quality

Happy, Healthy Homes

Dates: April  2017 – March 2022

The purpose of this project is to determine the nutrient intake of children in family child care homes and to test a local and state-wide intervention to enhance nutritional quality. This interprofesional project also aims to enhance environmental health and reduce children's exposure to chemicals in collaboration with the College of Public Health. This project is supported by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Summaries:

Early Care and Education and Food Deserts in Oklahoma Impact of Food Desert on Family Child Care Home Meal Quality  Baseline Nutrition Practices and Barriers in Family Child Care Homes Baseline Environmental Health in Family Child Care Homes
Relationship Between Provider Nutrition Knowledge, Self-Efficacy and Nutrition Practices and Policies FCCH Access and Knowledge Impact on Children’s Fresh Produce OKC FCCH Menu Quality  

 

Sibling Influence on Subsiding Behaviors Related to Obesity

Preschools, Parents and Physicians: Working Together to Curb Obesity in American Indian Children: Phase 2

Dates:  October 2016 – February 2018

The purpose of this project is Work collaboratively with stakeholders to develop a multi-level intervention to prevention obesity in American Indian children. The aim is to work directly with child care providers to provide support and resources to parents with key input and health care provider activities. This project is supported by the Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Family Child Care Home Provider Experiences with Child Nutrition

Dates: December 2015 to May 2017

The purpose of this project is to understand Family Child Care Home provider difficulties with the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) and to understand ways in which technical assistance and nutrition education and training can assist healthful meals to young children.  This project is a collaboration with the Oklahoma Department of Education and Oklahoma Department of Human Services. This project is supported by the Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Summaries:

Project Summary

 

Obesity Prevention in Early Childhood: Statewide Assessment and Development of Action Plan

Dates: September 2015 to May 2017

The purpose of this project is to identify and conduct a network analysis of pivotal stakeholders regarding obesity prevention within Early Childhood Education (ECE) settings in Oklahoma. Additionally, gaps in policies, practices, and programs will be ascertained.  The action plan will provide clear, coordinated direction in meeting ECE obesity prevention best practices, as a state. This project is supported by the Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Summaries:

Executive Summary

 

Preschools, Parents and Physicians: Working Together to Curb Obesity in American Indian Children: Phase I

Dates:  July 2015 to October 2016

The purpose of this project is to Understand knowledge, attitude, and beliefs about obesity prevention in young American Indian children from different stakeholders perspectives. Work collaboratively with stakeholders to develop an intervention to prevention obesity in American Indian children. This project is supported by Presbyterian Health Foundation.

Summaries:

Healthcare Providers Parents Child Care Teachers

Assessing Current Status of Nutrition

Dates: April 2015 – May 2016

The purpose of this study is to interview teachers and staff and observe meal practices in child care centers participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program. This project is supported by the National Food Service Management Institute and the Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Summaries:

Technical Report

 

Understanding the Child Care Teacher and Director Role in Promoting Health Behaviors

Dates: June 2014 - May 2016

The purpose of this project is to better understand, using qualitative research methodologies, how child care teachers and directors view their role in promoting healthy lifestyle behaviors. This study will be used to create a child care teacher focused intervention. This project is being conducted in partnership with the University of Oklahoma Department of Health and Exercise Science. This project is supported by OUHSC Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Summaries:

Summary of Project Findings

 

Validity of 5 Different Physical Activity and Sedentary Behavior Monitors in Adults with Unilateral Transtibial Amputation

Dates: March 2013 - May 2014

The purpose of this project is to determine if different commercially available physical activity monitors can accurately classify activities of varying intensity in unilateral adults with transtibial amputation. This project is being conducted with partnership from the OUHSC Department of Rehabilitation Science. This project is supported by the OUHSC Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Evaluation of Classroom Assessments for Obesogenic Environments for Preschool

Dates: June 2013 - May 2014 

The purpose of this project is to compare two different classroom observation tools and determine if the globally utilized Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale can identify at-risk classrooms based on the Environment Policy Assessment observation and objectively measured physical activity. This project is supported by the OUHSC Department of Nutritional Sciences and The Infants, Toddlers, Twos & Threes Center

Summaries:

Summary of Project Findings

 

Child Care Influence on Health Outcomes in American Indian Preschoolers

Dates: January 2012 - December 2014

The purpose of this project is to understand the relationship between the child care center (CCC) environment and obesity risk factors, including health factors and behaviors associated with overweight and obesity, in American Indian preschool children. Key health behaviors include body mass index percentile, dietary quality and physical activity. Thirteen Native American child care centers across the state participated in this project. This project was supported the Peggy & Charles Stephenson Cancer Center at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

Summaries:

Summary of Project Findings

 

Obesogenic Environment of Child Care Centers and Child Health

Dates: September 2011 - May 2016

The purpose of this project is to determine if there is an association of the child care center environment on the health (height and weight ) and health behaviors (physical activity and dietary intake) of preschool children in Oklahoma. Additionally, we examined to access to outdoors, tv, and staff food behaviors. We also examined differences in food intake between childcare and home. This project is supported by the Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Summaries:

Access to outdoors and TV and physical activity Staff food behaviors and child food intake Dietary intake at child care and home

Assessment of Obesogenic Policies in Oklahoma Child Care Centers

Dates: August 2010 - May 2011

The purpose of the project was to assess the nutrition and physical activity policies and practices in child care centers across the state of Oklahoma, representing each quadrant and metropolitan area. This project was supported by the Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Family Decision Making and Obesogenic Behaviors

Dates: August 2010 - May 2011

The purpose of this project was to conduct family interview to develop greater understanding around the values and practices of families regarding TV viewing, particularly in children's bedrooms, and family meals. This project was supported by the Department of Nutritional Sciences.

Development of an Instrument to Measure Leisure Time Sedentary Behavior in Children

Dates: January 2010 - December 2010

The purpose of this project was to develop a short questionnaire which children and parents could complete that would detail all leisure time sedentary activity rather than just TV viewing. This project was supported by the OUHSC, College of Allied Health Research Seed Grant Program.