Dr Sara Benjamin Neelon

Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow

Programme lead – Policy and environmental approaches to obesity prevention in pregnancy and childhood

Email: sara.neelon@jhu.edu /sb878@medschl.cam.ac.uk

Address:
UKCRC Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR)
MRC Epidemiology Unit
University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine
Box 285 Institute of Metabolic Science
Cambridge Biomedical Campus
Cambridge
CB2 0QQ

Qualifications

  • Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow, CEDAR, University of Cambridge, 2011 – present
  • Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins University, 2015 – present
  • Associate Professor, Duke University Medical Center and Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, 2009 – 2015
  • Post-Doctoral Fellowship, Harvard Medical School, 2007 – 2009
  • PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2006
  • MPH, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2001
  • Registered Dietitian, Academy for Nutrition and Dietetics, USA, 2007 – present

Background and experience
Sara Benjamin Neelon is a child nutritionist with training in dietary intervention research (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and nutritional epidemiology (Harvard Medical School).  In addition to her academic appointment at Johns Hopkins University, she is an Honorary Senior Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge.  She joined the Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR) in 2011.

Current work and interests
Sara’s research focuses on policy and environmental approaches to obesity prevention at the population level.  The majority of her research targets young children and women during pregnancy.

Professional membership and roles

  • Institute of Medicine Committee on Obesity Prevention Policies for Young Children
  • Institute of Medicine Panelist for Planning a WIC Research Agenda
  • Member, The Obesity Society

Publications

Current and previous grants

  • July 2012 – June 2017. National Institutes of Health R01DK094841. Early child care and risk of obesity. This study establishes and follows a racially diverse cohort of 1000 mother/infant dyads in Durham, NC to examine potential mediators to excessive weight gain in the first year of life, including feeding, physical activity, sleep, and stress. $3,235,451.
  •  January 2013 – December 2018.  National Institutes of Health R01DK09383801. This intervention targets parents and other caregivers to promote appropriate feeding and encourage active play in infants and toddlers. $3,347,234.
  • May 2011 – April 2014. Duke Global Health Institute.  This study evaluates physical activity, access to green space, and neighborhood safety in a cohort of 100 4-year-old children as they enter the public school system in Ensenada and Tijuana, México. $50,000.
  • November 2011 – May 2013. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This study evaluates the effects of a new state-wide nutrition policy for licensed child care centers in South Carolina serving low-income children. $149,988.
  • Sept 2010 – Dec 2011. CDC (subcontract through FHI360). Development of a policy guide for US states. The goal of this project was to develop an action guide for states interested in making programmatic and policy changes related to obesity prevention in child care. $90,000.
  • Jan 2011 – Jul 2012. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Active Living.  North Carolina on the Move:  Assessing a community campaign on childhood obesity. This project assessed the effects of a grass-roots intervention (natural experiment) within a high-risk community in the Southern U.S.  $150,000.
  • Jul 2011 – Jun 2013.  NICHD, National Institutes of Health.  Evaluation of a Massachusetts physical activity policy for child care.  The goal of this study was to evaluate a state policy requiring physical activity daily for children in child care (follow-up data).  $420,000.
  • Feb 2009 – Jan 2010.  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Active Living Research.  Evaluation of a Massachusetts physical activity policy for child care.  The goal of this study was to evaluate a state policy requiring physical activity daily for children in child care (baseline data).  $150,000.
  • Sep 2008 – Aug 2010.  Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award.  NIDDK, National Institutes of Health.  Obesity prevention in infancy and early childhood. This study pilot tested an environmental intervention to prevent obesity among racially and ethnically diverse children birth to 2 years in child care.  $107,000.
  • Jul 2008 – June 2009.  Harvard Medical School and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Faculty Grant.  Evaluation of a Massachusetts physical activity policy for child care. The goal of this study was to evaluate a state policy requiring physical activity daily for children in child care (baseline data).  $35,000.
  • Sep 2008 – Aug 2009.  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Healthy Eating Research.  Nutrition regulation in child care:  How do states measure up?  The aims of this study were to assess current state policies related to healthy eating in child care settings, and to develop and disseminate model policies to states.  $100,000.
  • Sep 2005 – Sep 2006.  Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Child Care Bureau.  Pre-doctoral Dissertation Fellowship: Child Care Research Scholars.  This study compared web to in-person training of public health nurses to deliver a nutrition and physical activity intervention to preschoolers.  $39,000.

External links
Sara at Johns Hopkins www.jhsph.edu/faculty/directory/profile/5764/sara-benjamin-neelon