University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Jennifer Carroll

Involvement: 

Award: 

Graduate Student Dissertation Award, Methodology Scholarship

School or College: 

School of Public Health and Health Science

Mentor: 

Susan Sturgeon

Bio: 

Jennifer Carroll, MPH is a PhD student in Epidemiology in the School of Public Health and Health Sciences, working with Dr. Susan Sturgeon. Her research interests include obesity, cancer, food marketing, diet, and media use in children. Her dissertation research includes: 1) a chapter on Ultra-Processed Food intake, advertising exposure, and weight from a community-based prospective cohort study of 3-5-year-old children over a 1-year time frame, 2) a chapter looking at latent patterns of child eating behaviors (e.g., picky eating) and home environment factors (e.g., tv in bedroom) on child weight, and 3) a chapter qualitatively analyzing interview data from 9 to 11 year old children to understand the extent to which they realize being targets for unhealthy food advertising across digital media platforms (e.g., social media, educational websites).

Research: 

Childhood overweight and obesity is widespread problem in the US (1). Overconsumption of unhealthy, processed foods may lead to cardiometabolic diseases among young children, increasing health risks as an adult (3). Therefore, my dissertation research includes: 1) a chapter on Ultra-Processed Food intake, advertising exposure, and weight from a community-based prospective cohort study of 3-5-year-old children over a 1-year time frame, 2) a chapter looking at latent patterns of child eating behaviors (e.g., picky eating) and home environment factors (e.g., tv in bedroom) on child weight, and 3) a chapter qualitatively analyzing interview data from 9 to 11 year old children to understand the extent to which they realize being targets for unhealthy food advertising across digital media platforms (e.g., social media, educational websites). 

If our hypotheses are correct, the findings would provide a strong foundation for interventions aimed to reduce intake of unhealthy, processed foods among young children and greater support for policies to protect children from the deleterious effects of child-directed advertising for unhealthy foods. We also hope to be able to better understand the nuances associated with children’s media use and extent to which they realize they are targets for food advertising, from a variety of perspectives. By demonstrating these important links, young children may not remain the most vulnerable in the obesity epidemic. Preventing overweight and obese status in young children is imperative for lifelong health. 

Student Award Academic Year: