Research & Centers


The faculty of the Program in Nutrition are actively engaged in cutting-edge research. This research generates a variety of opportunities for M.S., M.Ed., and Ph.D. students.

Current Research Projects

Promoting Healthy School Children – Return to Scratch Cooking Project: New York City’s Office of School Food has a 25-year plan to move all 1000+ kitchens that prepare food for NYC students to scratch cooked, less processed meals. We are documenting the roll-out of the Return to Scratch Cooking initiative, as well as the impact on students’ school lunch consumption, attitudes toward school lunch, and other broader outcomes.

Promoting Effective Nutrition Education in Schools – The Nutrition Education Collaborative Project: The 80+ organizations that currently provide nutrition education programs to NYC schools are forming a coalition to determine how to best combine efforts to maximize their reach and impact for students. We are spearheading this initiative and evaluating the process of how such partnerships can promote the most effective nutrition education to all schools in NYC.

Promoting Healthy Eating Behaviors in Families – MySmileBuddy: In collaboration with Columbia’s College of Dental Medicine, we have developed a novel iPad app (MySmileBuddy) that offers a family-centered program to promote healthy eating and oral hygiene habits to reduce tooth decay in young children. We are part of a team that received an NIH-funded grant to rigorously evaluate MySmileBuddy in over 800 primarily Hispanic parent-child dyads in Northern Manhattan.

Promoting Healthy Eating Behaviors in Children and Adults with Celiac Disease: In collaboration with the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, we have a series of studies that promote dietary adherence and quality of life for children and adults with celiac disease. Current studies include: (1) The Cooking Project to promote a healthful gluten-free diet; (2) The Eating Pattern Study to better understand diet quality, diet variety, and level of processed foods consumed; (3) The Eating Disorder Study to determine the extent to which individuals on a restrictive gluten-free diet are at risk for disordered eating; and (4) The Family Study which examines the ‘ripple-effect’ on the household’s diet and quality of life when one member is diagnosed with celiac disease.

Promoting Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Hispanic Breast Cancer Survivors – Mi Vida Saludable: In collaboration with the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, we are developing and evaluating a culturally-tailored intervention for Latina breast cancer survivors to have the motivation, skills and confidence to eat more fruits and vegetables, reduce consumption of sugar and fat, and participate in daily physical activity. The intervention has two components: in-person classes and an online text-based program. The study is comparing four groups of women, those who received the in-person classes only, online program only, both, and controls.

Promoting Professional Development for Teaching Effective Nutrition Education – Nutrition for All Online Course: In collaboration with the Office of Digital Learning at Teachers College we are developing and evaluating an online class for teachers (launch date summer 2019) that provides teachers with an appreciation of the importance of good nutrition for their students and demonstrates exciting, hands-on activities that integrate food and nutrition across the curriculum and teaches practical skills for how to conduct nutrition in ways that successfully build lifelong, health-promoting eating patterns.

Recently Completed Research Projects

Promoting Healthy Choices to Reduce Obesity in Middle School Students – Choice, Control & Change: Through a National Institutes of Health, Science Education Partnership Award, we developed, evaluated, published, and disseminated a middle school science and nutrition curriculum, Choice, Control & Change: Using Science to Make Food and Activity Decisions that builds agency and intrinsic motivation for healthy eating and physical activity and teaches practical food-choice skills and how to create and follow action plans for behavior change, with the ultimate goal to encourage middle school students to adopt and sustain lifestyle choices that promote health by reducing obesity and related chronic diseases.

Promoting Healthy Choices to Reduce Obesity in Fifth Graders – Food, Health & Choices: Through a United States Department of Agriculture Childhood Obesity Prevention Grant, we developed an intervention with two components, a 23-lesson classroom science curriculum with engaging, fun, hands-on activities (that replaced two mandated science units) and a classroom wellness policy intervention (that met New York City’s school wellness policy). We then tested how each intervention, alone and combined, impacted obesity risk and healthy eating and physical activity behaviors.

Promoting Healthy Choices for Middle Schools through an Online, Serious Game – Creature 101: In partnership with Stottler Henke Associates, Inc we collaborated on a National Institutes of Health Small Business Research Initiative grant to create and evaluate an online game, Creature 101, where students’ mission was to save creatures in the world of Tween who had inadvertently been introduced to soda, chips, candy, and video games. The creatures were now addicted to these and becoming less healthy by the minute. Through this fast-paced adventure students learned how to navigate their own complex environment to make healthy eating and physical activity choices.

Promoting Healthy School Programming to Encourage Students to Eat Fruits and Vegetables as Part of School Lunch – FoodCorps Evaluation: In partnership with FoodCorps, we developed and validated the FoodCorps Healthy School Progress Report that measures food-related educational programming in schools as well as provides a platform for schools to make action plans for increasing programming. We also conducted a cross-sectional study, using schools from eight states across the U.S., to test for correlations between levels of food-related educational programming and fruit and vegetable consumption at school lunch.

Promoting More Scratch-Cooked, Less Processed School Lunch and Active, Prosocial Recess – Wellness in the Schools Evaluation: In partnership with Wellness in the Schools, we conducted an evaluation of the Cook for Kids Program that changed the school lunch menu to the alternative menu with more scratch-cooked and less processed options, and Coach for Kids Program that adds a coach to recess who encourages group games and positive social behaviors. We also tested how Wellness in the Schools programming impacted teachers’ perception of their students’ readiness to learn after lunch and recess.

Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy

The Laurie M. Tisch Center for Food, Education & Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University, works with policy makers, program developers, and community stakeholders to increase access to healthy foods, to combat the over-abundance of unhealthy foods, and to promote a sustainable food system. The Center’s unique focus combines policy change with nutrition education in order to encourage healthier food choices. The Center also serves as the intellectual hub for multidisciplinary research in nutrition and health while preparing the next generation of food and nutrition professionals and leaders.  Learn more about the center.

Back to skip to quick links