Our research aims to discover how the body regulates where excess fat is deposited, how increased body fat affects our health, and how this is all regulated during growth and development and across different segments of the population. We are interested in understanding the mechanism linking fat accumulation to risk of diabetes, heart disease, and fatty liver disease, and how this is established early in life from a developmental perspective. We are also doing clinical trials to examine how these links can be reversed with novel dietary interventions.
Another major focus of our research is to understand the role of dietary sugar and fructose in particular, on obesity and metabolic risk in children. We are especially interested in understanding how early nutritional exposures to sugars and low calorie sweeteners can affect body fat development and early risk, including cognitive development, and how this might be mediated by the impact of early nutrition on the developing infant gut microbiome. We are particularly interested in bioactive compounds in mothers milk called human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs). These HMO’s are non-digestible sugars, and we are studying how they act as prebiotics enhancing gut health and healthy development in the first few years of life.
Our research group has been studying the causes and consequences of childhood obesity for almost 30 years. I have put together this website to share our findings and updates on new studies. I hope you find this site helpful, and I welcome your feedback and comments.
Impact of sugars and human milk oligosaccharides on infant microbiome and obesity/0 Comments/in Current Research, Research Projects /by Academic Web Pages
Funder: NIDDK Funding Period: April 2017 for 4 years Hispanic children are at high risk for obesity, a disparity that is already established by 2 years of age. Our prior work found that high dietary sugars in early-life contributes to this increased risk and that this adverse effect was obliterated in children who were exposed […]
Nutrigenetic intervention to reduce liver fat in Hispanics/0 Comments/in Current Research, Research Projects /by Academic Web Pages
Funder: NIMHD (RO1) Funding Period: March 2016 for 4 years The prevalence of pediatric non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has doubled in the last 20 years and affects obese Hispanics most severely. We have found that 40% of obese Hispanic children and adolescents have a liver fat fraction above 5.5%, a clinical criteria for NAFLD […]
Home intervention for reducing sugary drinks and obesity in Hispanic women and infants/0 Comments/in Current Research, Research Projects /by Academic Web Pages
Funder: NIDDK Funding Period: September 2016 for 5 years Consumption of sugar sweetened beverages and juices (SSB/J) in infancy is associated with obesity in early childhood. This is a significant public health issue requiring family based solutions. Yet interventions aimed at SSB/J reduction remain controversial based on limited effects in prior studies and concerns whether […]
Human milk oligosaccharides, gut microbiome and obesity in infants/0 Comments/in Current Research, Research Projects /by Academic Web Pages
Funder: Gerber Foundation Grant Funding PeriodL January 2016 for 3 years This study aims to identify novel factors in human breast milk that affect development of the infant gut bacterial profile (the microbiome), and in turn contribute to infant growth and/or accumulation of excess body fat by 24 months of age. By comparing infants of […]