Roster: Guideline Development Panel for Obesity
Jamy Darone Ard, MD, is an associate professor in the department of epidemiology and prevention and the department of medicine at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. He is also co-director of the Wake Forest Baptist Health Weight Management Center, directing medical weight management programs. Dr. Ard received an MD and completed internal medicine residency training at Duke University Medical Center. He also received formal training in clinical research as a fellow at the Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care at the Durham VA Medical Center. Dr. Ard has more than 15 years of experience in clinical nutrition and obesity. Prior to joining the faculty at Wake Forest in 2012, Dr. Ard spent nine years at the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he served as medical director of UAB's EatRight Weight Management Services, vice chair for clinical care in the Department of Nutrition Sciences and associate dean for clinical affairs in the School of Health Professions. Dr. Ard's research interests include clinical management of obesity and strategies to improve cardiometabolic risk using lifestyle modification. He has been conducting research on lifestyle modification since 1995 and has worked on several National Institutes of Health-funded multicenter trials, including Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), DASH-sodium and Weight Loss Maintenance Trial. His work has been published in numerous scientific journals and he has been a featured presenter at several conferences and workshops dealing with obesity. Currently, he is also serving as a member of the Expert Panel on the Identification, Evaluation, and Treatment of Overweight and Obesity in Adults. This group, sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of NIH, is revising the 1998 guidelines for the clinical management of overweight and obesity.
Gary Bennett, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology, global health and medicine at Duke University. Dr. Bennett directs the Duke Obesity Prevention Program and co-directs the Duke Center on Biobehavioral Health Disparities Research. For the last decade, his research program has investigated strategies to contend with the obesity epidemic in medically vulnerable populations, including racial and ethnic minorities, and those who are socioeconomically challenged. Dr. Bennett's research group has developed a weight management strategy called the Interactive Obesity Treatment Approach, which is delivered using advanced health information technologies. This approach has allowed them to reach large numbers of patients at low cost with evidence-based content. Dr. Bennett recently completed Be Fit, Be Well, a 24-month effectiveness trial conducted in several Boston health centers with a largely impoverished, predominantly African American and Latino patient population. The trial, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, demonstrated modest weight loss outcomes that were sustained over two years, along with clinically significant improvements in blood pressure.
Phillip Brantley, PhD, serves as head of the Behavioral Medicine Laboratory at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Louisiana State University, in Baton Rouge, La. Brantley served as principal investigator and intervention director for two National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute-sponsored multicenter clinical trials. He was co-principal investigator of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases-sponsored Primary Care Office Management of Obesity trial to implement a weight management intervention based on the NIH Guidelines for the Treatment of Obesity in primary care medical settings. Brantley also served on the steering committee for the MOVE weight management program, the largest weight management program to date established by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Currently, he is the program director on three NIH institutional training grants. Brantley established one of the first multidisciplinary behavioral medicine programs in 1980 to jointly train primary care medical residents and psychology graduate students.
Leonard Epstein, PhD, is a SUNY distinguished professor in both the department of pediatrics and department of preventive medicine at the University of Buffalo, and the chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine. Dr. Epstein is a clinical psychologist with over 30 years of experience in obesity research. He has published over 350 papers in refereed journals, with the majority of these papers on obesity and related topics. Epstein has been continually funded for obesity research from NIH. He has developed family-based treatment for pediatric obesity, as well as the Traffic Light Diet, which is a nutrient profiling system. His laboratory was the first to test interventions to increase lifestyle physical activity and reduce sedentary behavior. He recently has been developing translational research based on laboratory findings in food reinforcement and habituation. Epstein has also worked on treatment guidelines for obesity for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Barbara Fiese, PhD, is a professor of human development and family studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and director of the Family Resiliency Center. Her area of expertise focuses primarily on childhood obesity and the promotion of healthy eating behaviors. Much of her research has been on the role that family mealtimes play in promoting healthy eating habits during childhood. She is currently a co-investigator on a project studying the whole family approach to healthy eating, physical activity and shared mealtimes in Spanish-speaking families. Fiese has studied the role of chronic health conditions, such as asthma, that place children at risk for obesity. She also serves as co-program director of the Illinois Transdisciplinary Obesity Prevention Program, which is a USDA-funded training program aimed at developing a new MPH/PhD, program in obesity prevention. In addition to conducting a meta-analysis on family mealtimes and nutritional health, she helped prepare the APA resolution on promotion of healthy active lifestyles and prevention of obesity and unhealthy weight control behaviors in children and youth as chair of the APA Committee on Children, Youth and Families.
Jane Gray, PhD, serves as the director of behavioral health for the Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity, the only interdisciplinary pediatric weight management program in central Texas. She works with a team of professionals from medicine, nutrition, physical therapy, nursing and social work to meet the needs of a predominantly Latino and Medicaid-insured patient population. Gray also directs the psychology training program at the Texas Child Study Center and is a clinical assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Gray is active with Focus on a Fitter Future, an obesity focus group of the Children's Hospital Association. As part of this national group of 25 weight management centers, she has worked with other pediatric psychologists to develop and disseminate guidelines for psychologists in the assessment and treatment of pediatric obesity, as well as guidelines for training future pediatric psychologists in the assessment and treatment of pediatric obesity. Dr. Gray has a background in general child psychology and the implementation and dissemination of evidence-based treatment. Along with her clinical and research endeavors, she has been active in advocacy work with the Texas Pediatric Society and the National Initiative for the Children's Healthcare Quality to train health care professionals in becoming community advocates for the prevention of childhood obesity.
Maria Llabre, PhD, (chair) is a professor of psychology and the director of biobehavioral statistics at the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at the University of Miami. Her expertise is in quantitative methodology, which she has applied to the field of behavioral medicine for the past 30 years. Llabre has collaborated in the design of numerous research projects, primarily in the area of cardiovascular behavioral medicine. She has extensive experience teaching statistics and research methods at the graduate level, including cross-cultural research. Some of her work has been on the consequences of war exposure on children's health, and she is currently involved with the analysis of data from the Hispanic Community Health Study/Study of Latinos. Llabre has been the statistics editor for the journal Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine since 2005.
Michelle Polfuss, PhD, RN, CPNP-AC/PC, is a pediatric nurse practitioner who has focused her career on the prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity. Currently, she works at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin in the department of pediatrics, division of endocrinology, where she works with children who have an abnormal weight status and secondary medical co-morbidities. In addition to clinical work, Polfuss has published research on how parenting and feeding behaviors impact children's weight status. She was an active participant of the National Association of Children's Hospitals and Related Institutions pediatric obesity focus group, which chose 12 teams from different children hospital pediatric obesity programs to converge and compare methods of treating pediatric obesity within the hospital system. In addition, Polfuss is the elected chair of the Childhood Obesity Special Interest Group of the National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners.
Hollie Raynor, PhD, RD, LDN, is a registered dietician and clinical psychologist who has conducted randomized controlled trials in the area of lifestyle intervention in both children and adults. She is an associate professor in the department of nutrition at the University of Tennessee, where she assisted in developing a practicum for graduate nutrition students — so that they may gain nutrition counseling skills in a primary care setting — in the areas of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. She is also working with the director of integrated care at Cherokee Health Systems, Knoxville, Tenn., to develop a family-based childhood obesity program that can be implemented in primary care settings to meet the needs of underserved and rural populations. This program is based upon the interventions investigated in the randomized trials that she has been involved in over the past 15 years. Raynor is a member of the Prediabetes Evidence Analysis Project Committee for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which has been developing and grading recommendations for the treatment of prediabetes based upon systematic reviews and literature.
Delia Smith West, PhD, is a professor of health behavior and health education, and the director of the Center for the Study of Obesity, at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She has experience in obesity treatment clinical trials, as well as translation research. Currently, West serves as co-chair of the Lifestyle Intervention Subcommittee for the Look AHEAD clinical trial, a National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases-funded multisite study examining behavioral weight management intervention for overweight and obese individuals with Type 2 diabetes. West's treatment outcome studies form the basis of the original support for the efficacy of motivational interviewing in behavioral weight control. She has also examined adherence to behavioral weight management among various racial/ethnic groups. Additionally, West has translated evidence-based obesity treatment approaches for delivery by lay educators and examined the efficacy of the translation in community settings. She has experience working with older adults, underserved and high-risk populations, and in a wide variety of settings.
Denise Wilfley, PhD, is a professor of psychiatry, medicine, pediatrics and psychology, and the director of the Weight Management and Eating Disorders Program at Washington University in St. Louis. Over the past two decades, she has been awarded more than $25 million from the NIH in a programmatic line of research, examining the causes, characterization, prevention and treatment of obesity and eating disorders. She has experience developing efficacious interventions to treat and prevent obesity and excess weight gain among children and adults. In addition, her work involves the investigation of strategies to tailor treatments to unique characteristics of overweight individuals. Wilfley also has an extensive history of serving in leadership roles in advocacy and research societies for obesity and eating disorders. She has been an external advisor for obesity programs and centers across the country, such as Wellspring Health Living Academy, Minnesota Obesity Center and University of Alabama-Birmingham's Nutrition Obesity Research Center.