The main research focus of our group can be broadly termed “international nutrition” as we study factors that influence nutrition and health in developing countries. There are two specific aspects of our research. First, we investigate the long-term health implications of poor growth (Growth and metabolism). Second, as growth is a biological outcome associated with the economic status of a country, we also study changes in household food intake during economic crises. (Economics and diet in transitional countries) These two areas of research, one being primarily clinical and physiological and the other being epidemiological and economic, are complementary as the physiological outcomes we study only become manifest when the economic conditions of a country improve.
Growth and metabolism: Through our research program, we aim to better understand the long-term implications of poor nutrition early in life. A large number of epidemiological studies have established that nutrition in utero and during early childhood may have lifelong, and perhaps inter-generational, effects on health. The objective of our research is to determine the physiological mechanisms behind the associations from population studies.
Economics and diet in transitional countries: When a country develops economically, there are a number of structural and marketing changes that prompt changes in the availability of new and different foods. At the same time, economic changes are never smooth and often countries experience some economic crises as was reported in Argentina, Russia, parts of Asia, and Eastern Europe. How households respond to such crises in terms of food purchasing and dietary intake is generally poorly understood.
Daniel Hoffman, PhD, Associate Professor and Chair of Nutritional Sciences in the School of Environmental and Biological Science at Rutgers University, leads the research group and is responsible for the design and conduct of the research projects described. Dr. Hoffman has over 15 years of experience conducting research on energy metabolism and body composition using clinical techniques and stable isotopes in developing countries.
Hoffman CV: HOFFMAN ACADEMIC CV 2012
Thaisa Lemos, a graduate student from Natal, Brazil is studying the influence of dietary counseling on childhood nutrition in low-income families in Brazil. Previous research found that such counseling programs improved childhood nutrition even five to seven years later, but there is limited research on the effectiveness of such programs in families who are well below the poverty line.
Pamlea Barrios, a graduate student with experience conducting field studies in Bolivia, is currently studying the influence of maternal autonomy, essentially how free or limited a woman is to make decisions about heath care, feeding practices, family planning, on risk of having a child who is stunted or not.
Dylan Klein is an undergraduate student who has been a Student-Leader on the Brazil Service Learning Program and will be returning to Brazil a few times this year to assist on a research project and for the service learning trip in March of 2013.