Roster: Guideline Development Panel for Obesity

January 2015

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. 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. Ard has more than 15 years of experience in clinical nutrition and obesity. Prior to joining the faculty at Wake Forest in 2012, 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. 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 professor of psychology, global health, and medicine at Duke University. He directs the Duke Obesity Prevention Program and the Duke Global Digital Health Science. Bennett's research program designs, tests, and disseminates digital health obesity treatments. Bennett and his team have engineered and tested software-based obesity interventions for a range of platforms, including the web, text, interactive voice response systems. Bennett developed the interactive obesity treatment approach (iOTA), which has been tested in a range of populations, both domestically and abroad. Much of Bennett's research is conducted in the primary care setting and his team has conducted several NIH-funded clinical trials to evaluate iOTA-based obesity treatments for high risk patents in community health centers.

Phillip Brantley, PhD, is a John S. McIlhenny Professor and Head of  Behavioral Medicine 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 weight management 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 obesity research training grants and PI on a state funded study examining insurance coverage for weight management. 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, an 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 has been active with Focus on a Fitter Future, an obesity focus group of the Children's Hospital Association and the Expert Exchange, a collaboration of the American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight and Children’s Hospital Association. As part of these national groups of weight management centers, she is working on recommendations for addressing severe obesity in early childhood, and has developed recommendations for pediatric psychologists who assess and treat childhood obesity in tertiary care settings. 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 to train health care professionals in becoming community advocates for the prevention of childhood obesity. 

Caroline A. Jhingory, MSW, is a former school teacher and government community development staffer. She is now a health and wellness consultant and author of "Half My Size: How I Ate to Lose 150lbs." Through her writing, public speaking and social media, Jhingory continually shares her journey of weight loss, fitness and nutrition. She has provided her healthy living strategies on "The "Dr. Oz Show," "Good Morning America "and the "Today" show, and appeared in such publications as The Huffington Post and People, Essence and Shape magazines. She has been an invited to conduct workshops and cooking demonstrations for numerous organizations, including Howard University Hospital, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, PNC Bank, the National Association of Women in Agriculture and the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, as well as at churches and schools across the country. She operates an active website and blog.

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.

Patty Nece, JD, is the counsel for regulations and legislation in the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of the Solicitor's Division of Black Lung and Longshore Legal Services. Prior to assuming her current position in 2012, Nece served for 20 years as counsel for appellate litigation in the division. Her work has been recognized with several Secretarial Exceptional Achievement Awards, the Department's Distinguished Career Service Award, and the Mary-Helen Mautner Award for Excellence in Appellate Advocacy. Nece brings her personal experiences with lifelong obesity, severe obesity and various weight loss and health promotion methods to her work as an advocate on obesity issues. She has been invited to speak and serve as a roundtable participant at numerous venues, including the Institute of Medicine's Roundtable on Obesity Solutions, the Milliken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University and the STOP Obesity Alliance. She has also appeared before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Gastroenterology and Urology Devices Panel of the Medical Devices Advisory Committee and the American Society for Nutrition. At these forums, she has spoken on topics such as best practices for discussing weight and health with patients, obesity decision aids for primary care physicians, the patient's perspective on severe obesity and the need for obesity treatments. She is also a member of the Obesity Action Coalition.

Michele Polfuss, PhD, RN, CPNP-AC/PC, is a pediatric nurse practitioner and assistant professor who has focused her career on the prevention and treatment of pediatric obesity. Currently, she works at the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee College of Nursing and within the nursing research department at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.  Polfuss has published research on how parenting and feeding behaviors impact children's weight status and is currently working on research focused on obesity in children with special needs. 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 was 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 South Carolina SMART State Endowed professor of exercise science, and the director of the Technology Center to Promote Healthy Lifestyles, at the University of South Carolina. She has experience in obesity treatment clinical trials, as well as translation research. West served 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 demonstrating effective long-term behavioral weight management outcomes for overweight and obese individuals with Type 2 diabetes followed for over eight years. West's treatment outcome studies form the basis of the original support for the efficacy of motivational interviewing in behavioral weight control. West 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 in community settings and dissemination of evidence-based weight management programs using the internet. West adults, underserved and high-risk populations, and in a wide variety of settings.

Denise Wilfley, PhD, Scott Rudolph University professor of psychiatry, medicine, pediatrics and psychology at Washington University in St. Louis, is an international authority on the prevention and treatment of obesity and eating disorders. Since 1993, Wilfley has been continuously funded from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in a programmatic line of research examining the causes, prevention and treatment of obesity and eating disorders. She established the clinical significance of binge eating disorder, developed efficacious interventions for eating disorders and pioneered family-based treatments for pediatric weight loss maintenance. She has published over 200 scientific articles and chapters, and as evidence of her impactful program of research and mentorship, holds a 10-year NIH Midcareer K-Award and directs a T32 training grant focused on transdisciplinary approaches to obesity intervention. Many of her trainees have achieved national distinction. Currently, she is using innovative methods to increase the potency and implementation of evidence-based interventions and evaluating avenues to improve access to care. Wilfley has received several awards for her scientific achievements, including a NIH FIRST Independent Research Award, the Pfizer Visiting Professorship Award at Baylor College of Medicine and the Aubuchon Obesity and Behavioral Health award. She holds prominent roles on national boards including: past-president of the Eating Disorders Research Society; vice-chair of the Missouri Eating Disorders Council; past-chair of the Pediatric Obesity Society of The Obesity Society (TOS); advisor to the American Academy of Pediatrics Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight; standing member of a NIH study section and member of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research. Additionally, she serves as an external advisor for obesity programs across the country and internationally, and is a key leader in translating evidence-based treatments for weight- and eating-related disorders into the community.