Contento, Isobel R. (irc6)

Isobel Ruth Contento

Mary Swartz Rose Emerita Professor of Nutrition

Office Location:

530B Building 528

Educational Background

B.Sc. (Hons), University of Edinburgh
M.A., Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley

Scholarly Interests

Behavioral aspects of nutrition; the development and evaluation of theory-based behaviorally-focused interventions to improve health and reduce risk of overweight in youth emphasizing how the interactions among biology, personal behavior, and the food system affect eating patterns and weight, and enhancing skills to make competent choices; the systematic use of theory and research evidence to design nutrition education programs for a variety of populations to motivate and facilitate behavior change and provide environmental supports for change; the role of family in children’s food choice; the evaluation of multi-component nutrition education, including classroom curricula, physical activity, school meals, and school gardens; the training of nutrition educators. 

Selected Publications

Nutrition Education: Linking Research, Theory and Practice, Jones & Bartlett, Third Edition, 2016

Selected Publications

Bendelli, L.N., Gray, H.L., Paul, R., Contento, I.R., & Koch, P.A. (2017). Associations among measures of energy balance related behaviors and psychosocial determinants in urban upper elementary school children, Appetite, 108(1), 171-182.

Graziose, M.M., Koch, P.A., Wang, Y.C., Gray, H.L., & Contento, I.R. (2016). Cost-effectiveness of a nutrition education curriculum intervention in elementary schools, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, First published online November 11, 2016.

Gray, H.L., Koch, P.A., Contento, I.R., Bendelli, L.N., Ang, I., & Di Noia, J. (2016). Validity and reliability of behavior and theory-based psychosocial determinants measures, using Audience Response System technology in urban upper-elementary schoolchildren. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 48(7), 437-452.

Graziose, M.M., Gray, H.L., Quinn, J., Rundle, A.G., Contento, I.R., & Koch, P.A. (2016). School neighborhood built environment correlates of physical activity among New York City children, 2012, Prevention of Chronic Disease, 13:150581. 

Gray, H.L., Contento, I.R., Koch, P.A., & Di Noia, J. (2016). Mediating mechanisms of theory-based psychosocial determinants on behavioral changes in a middle school obesity risk reduction curriculum intervention, Choice, Control & Change, Childhood Obesity, 12(5): 348-359.

Gray, H.L., Burgermaster, M., Tipton, E., Contento, I.R., Koch, P., DiNoia, J., & Islas, A. (2016). Intraclass correlation coefficients for obesity indicators and energy balance related behaviors among New York City public elementary schools. Health Education & Behavior, 43(2): 172-181.

Aycinena A.C., Gaffney A.G., Koch P, Contento I.R., Karmally W, Greenlee H. (2016) ¡Cocinar Para Su Salud!: Development of a culturally-based nutrition education curriculum for Hispanic breast cancer survivors using a theory-driven procedural model. Health Education and Behavior. 2016 May 13 1090198116642236. [Epub ahead of print]

Greenlee H, Ogden Gaffney A, Aycinena C, Koch P, Contento I.R, Karmally W, et al. (2015).  ¡Cocinar Para Su Salud!: Randomized controlled trial of a culturally based dietary intervention among Hispanic breast cancer survivors. Journal of the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition 115:709–723, 2015.

Crookes DM, Shelton RC, Tehranifar P, Aycinena AC, Gaffney AO, Koch P, Contento IR, Greenlee H.  (2015). Social networks and social support for healthy eating among Latina breast cancer survivors: implications for social and behavioral interventions. Journal of Cancer Survivors doi: 10.1007/s11764-015-0475-6

Majumdar D, Koch PA, Lee H, Contento IR, de Lourdes Islas-Ramos A, & Fu D. (2015). Nutrition science and behavioral theories integrated in a serious game for adolescents. Simulation & Gaming 46(1): 68-97 

Pai SL & Contento IR. (2014). Parental perceptions, feeding practices, feeding styles and level of acculturation of Chinese Americans in relation to their school-age child’s weight status. Appetite 2014. 2014;80:174-182.

Lee H, Contento IR, Koch PA. (2013). Process evaluation of a middle school obesity risk-reduction nutrition curriculum intervention: Choice, Control & Change. Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior 45:105-109.

Contento, I. R., Koch, P.A., Lee, H., & DiNoia, J. (2013). Reducing childhood obesity: An innovative curriculum with wellness policy support - preliminary findings. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 45 (Suppl. 4), S80. 

Contento IR. (2012). Improving the diets and eating patterns of children and adolescents: How can nutrition education help?  Adolescent Medicine 23; 471-492.

Mallya A, Mensah FM, Contento I, Koch PA, Calabrese Barton A. (2012). Extending science beyond the classroom door: Learning from students’ experiences with the Choice, Control & Change (C3) curriculum. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 49:244-269.

Majumdar D, Koch PA, Lee H, Contento IR. (2012). Evaluation of “Creature-101”: A theory based virtual reality serious game for promoting healthy eating and physical activity behaviors among middle-school students.  International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Abstracts, (Abstract).

Eto K, Koch P, Contento IR Miyuki A. (2011). Variables of the theory of planned behavior are associated with family meal frequency among adolescents. Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior 43:525-530. 

Contento, I.R., Koch, P.A., Lee, H., & Calabrese-Barton, A. (2010). Adolescents demonstrate improvement in obesity risk behaviors after completion of Choice, Control & Change (C3), a curriculum addressing personal agency and autonomous motivation. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 110, 1830-1839.

Ollberding N.J., Wolf R.L., & Contento I.R. (2010). Label use and its relationship to dietary intake among US adults. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 110: 1233-1237

Di Noia J, Contento IR (2010). Fruit and vegetable availability enables adolescent consumption that exceeds national average. Nutrition Research 30;396-402.

Di Noia, J. & Contento I. R. (2009). Use of a brief food frequency questionnaire for estimating daily number of servings of fruits and vegetables in a minority adolescent population. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 109:1785-9.

Di Noia, J., Contento, I.R., Prochasks, J.O. (2008). Computer-mediated intervention tailored on Transtheoretical model stages and processes of change increases fruit and vegetable consumption among urban African-American adolescents. American Journal of Health Promotion. 22, 336-341.

Di Noia, J, Contento IR, Shinke SP. (2008). Fat avoidance and replacement behaviors predict low-fat intake among urban African- American adolescents. Nutrition Research 28, 358-363. 

Contento IR. (2008) Nutrition education: Linking research, theory and practice. Asian Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition 17: 176-179 

Contento IR, Koch PA, Lee HW, Sauberli W, Calabrese-Barton A. (2007). Enhancing personal agency and competence in eating and moving: Formative evaluation of a middle school curriculum, Choice, Control, and Change. Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior 39:S179-S186 

Di Noia J, Contento IR, Schinke SP (2007). Criterion validity of the Healthy Eating Self-monitoring Tool (HEST) for black adolescents. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 107:321-4. 

Contento IR, Williams SS, Michela JL, Franklin AB. (2006). Understanding the food choice process of adolescents in the context of family and friends. Journal of Adolescent Health 38:575-582. 

Calabrese-Barton A, Koch PA, Contento IR, Trudeau M, Yang K, Hindin TJ, Hagiwara, S. (2005). From global sustainability to inclusive education: Understanding urban children’s ideas about food production. International Journal of Science Education 27: 1163-1186. 

Hindin TJ, Contento IR, Gussow JD  (2004). A media literacy nutrition education curriculum for Head Start parents about the effects of television advertising on their children’s food requests. Journal of the American Dietetic Association.104: 164-169.

Contento IR, Basch, CE, Zybert P.  (2003). Body image, weight, and food choices of Latina women and their young children. Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior. 35:236-48. 

Contento IR, Randell JS, Basch CE. (2002).  Review and analysis of evaluation measures used in nutrition education intervention research. Journal of Nutrition Education & Behavior 34: 2-25.

Bissonnette, M.M. & Contento I.R. (2001). Adolescents’ perspectives and food choice behaviors in relation to the environmental impacts of food production practices. Journal of Nutrition Education, 33:72-82.

da Cunha Z, Contento IR, Morin K. (2000). A case study of a curriculum development process in nutrition education using empowerment as organizational policy.  Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 39:417-435.

Liquori T. Koch PD, Contento IR, Castle J. (1998). The Cookshop Program: Outcome evaluation of nutrition education program linking lunchroom food experiences with classroom cooking experiences. Journal of Nutrition Education, 30:302-313. 

Contento, I. R., Senior author. (1995). The effectiveness of nutrition education and implications for nutrition education policy, programs and research. A review of research. Journal of Nutrition Education, 27:279-418.

Isobel R Contento is the Mary Swartz Rose Professor of Nutrition and Education, and Coordinator of the Nutrition Program at Teachers College Columbia University. She has spoken on nutrition education at many national and international conferences and has been involved in numerous nutrition education development and evaluation projects and intervention research in this country and abroad, including Mexico, El Salvador, Israel, Japan, Taiwan, Portugal. She has been a member of several national advisory committees including the American Cancer Society, Centers for Disease Control, and the Institute of Medicine committee that produced Nutritional Standards for Food in Schools that was used to inform legislation, and the Nutrition Education Technical Expert Collaborative of the Nutrition Evidence Library, USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. She has received research grants from the US National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Department of Agriculture, and other sources. She has also been active in the Society for Nutrition Education for many years, serving on various committees including the Journal Committee, Board of Directors, and Board of Trustees. She was the recipient of that society’s Excellence in Nutrition Education Award. She has served on the editorial boards of several journals. She works with graduate students in field settings and provides workshops for practitioners on nutrition education. She has published numerous articles and book chapters, and has served on the editorial boards of several journals. The second edition of her textbook, Nutrition Education, Linking Research, Theory and Practice was published in 2011.

Dr Contento’s current research, conducted with collaborators, focuses on several areas:

•Linking childhood health promotion and obesity prevention to food system education - examples include an intervention study with middle school students, Choice, Control & Change, that seeks to reduce the risk of overweight in youth by an emphasis on personal agency and autonomous motivation in healthful food and activity choices within an obesigenic environment; In Defense of Food after-school curriculum designed to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables and decrease consumption of highly processed food for improved health; Creature 101, a serious educational game for middle school youth to increase healthful behaviors, In defense of Food after school program to increase .  

•The interactions of education and policy - an example is Food, Health & Choices, a study with fifth graders that examines the impact of classroom education and wellness policy separately and together to achieve healthful choices and obesity risk reduction.

•Evaluation of multi-component interventions in schools involving classroom curriculum, school meals, and school gardens.  

•Factors in influencing nutrition education policy and programs at the state and local levels. 

Related Articles

Thought for Food

A new book by Isobel Contento, Nutrition Education: Linking Research, Theory and Practice, provides strategies to future professionals who will work with the public.

Partnering to Make a Difference

In funding a new nutrition center at TC, Laurie M. Tisch extends both a strategy and a longstanding relationship with the College

Nutrition Conference Overview

Food was front and center at TC on Valentine's Day, as the College hosted a major conference on food research, policy and practice and announced its new Laurie M. Tisch for Food, Education & Policy.

Weighing in on Whole Foods Coming to Harlem

Isobel Contento, TC's Mary Swartz Rose Professor of Nutrition Education, appeared on WABC TV news on Wednesday to discuss the pros and cons of Whole Foods' impending arrival on 125th Street.

Koch and Contento: Questioning the Questions About Food Deserts

Koch and Contento: Questioning the Questions About Food Deserts

TC to Host "Food Day" Activities on Monday

This Monday, October 24th, is Food Day, and the College's Nutrition Education program will be conducting interactive activities on campus that are open to the entire TC community and neighborhood schools. The activities are based on a special Food Day School Curriculum, developed by TC nutrition education faculty, that has been posted online for teachers nationwide to use in their classrooms.

Getting in Their Kitchen

A new curriculum prompts kids to think about the consequences of diet and exercise

Eat, Play, Live

An updated curriculum on healthy choices

Eating Well--and Talking About It

TC honored members of its John Dewey Circle in September with a reception the Lobby Atrium of the offices of Tishman Speyer Properties at Rockefeller Plaza.

Testing Obesity Prevention with New York City Fifth Graders

TC's Isobel Contento and Pamela Koch to lead USDA-funded study in 20 public schools

A Focus on Just Food

A TC-hosted conference explores ways to right the City's nutritional disparities

Testing Obesity Prevention with NYC Fifth Graders

Teachers College has received a three-year $1.497 million grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop a science education and nutrition curriculum and evaluate its effectiveness in preventing obesity in some 2,000 low-income, predominantly minority fifth graders at 20 New York City public schools.

Gut Check: Can the U.S. Meet a Public Health Challenge More Complex Than Smoking?

Poor fitness and nutrition are undermining kids' performance in school. Does the U.S. have what it takes to meet a public health challenge more complex than smoking?

Academic Festival at TC: Pulling Out all the Stops on April 24th

TC's second annual Academic Festival will feature a keynote address by the Prime Minister of Namibia, a round-table of TC alumni who have created and led innovative schools, faculty presentations on everything from technology in learning to executive coaching, a slate of events geared to parents, and a special tribute to longtime TC Trustee Joyce Cowin.

Putting the "Academic" in Academic Festival

TC's second annual Academic Festival featured 13 different panels, presentations and performances, offered over the course of three sessions. The following six, described in brief, were also captured on video.

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