Niyati Parekh

Niyati Parekh
Niyati Parekh

Professor of Public Health Nutrition

Associate Vice Provost of Faculty Initiatives, Office of the Provost

Professional overview

Dr. Niyati Parekh’s research and teaching are motivated by a deep commitment to reduce nutrition-related disease outcomes in at-risk groups. In pursuit of this goal, as a nutritional epidemiologist, she has developed a robust research portfolio that examines the intersection of biological and behavioral factors of non-communicable diseases in US populations.  The overarching theme of her research program is to examine the role of nutrition and diet-related factors in the etiology of non-communicable diseases, with a particular focus on obesity, metabolic dysregulation and cancer. Her multidisciplinary research integrates the intricacies from four distinct areas of expertise: disease biology, nutritional biochemistry, epidemiology and biostatistics. She has developed a research program with three interconnected areas that are unified under the theme of investigating diet and non-communicable diseases in populations, using epidemiologic methods. The first arm consists of leveraging existing data to identify dietary patterns, dietary quality and food consumption patterns in populations of interest. The second is to identify dietary determinants and biomarkers that predict disease outcomes including obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer. The third arm is to measure diets using novel dietary assessment methods that will contribute to more accurate and multi-dimensional measurement of diet. The three areas of her work complement each other and reveal preventive measures for populations, inform health policy and guide clinical practice. She has 75 peer-reviewed publications and her work has been supported by awards from the American Cancer Society and NIH.

Dr. Parekh holds an MS in Clinical Nutrition from Mumbai University and a PhD in Nutritional Sciences with a minor in Population Health Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2005). After completing a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship in Cancer Epidemiology at the Cancer Institute of New Jersey-Rutgers, she joined New York University Steinhardt’s Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health in January 2008. With doctoral and postdoctoral training in epidemiological methods, she cross-pollinated the fields of nutrition and public health. In 2015, as Associate Professor of Public Health Nutrition, she transitioned to NYU’s newly launched School of Global Public Health (GPH), as Director of the Public Health Nutrition program (until 2019). She also has an affiliated appointment at the Department of Population Health-Grossman School of Medicine.

Her recent honors include being inducted as a New York Academy of Medicine Fellow, and her appointment as Independent Consultant at UNICEF. She has served the American Society for Nutrition as Chair of the Nutritional Epidemiology Research Group. She teaches graduate courses in the New York Campus and at study abroad sites (Mexico, Abu Dhabi and Florence). Graduate courses taught include Global Nutrition, Nutritional Epidemiology, Perspectives in Public Health and Global Cancer Epidemiology for which she has received awards. Dr. Parekh has served as the Executive Director of Doctoral Programs at GPH since 2017. In this role, she supports about 30 PhD students, and promotes all aspects of their rigorous research and professional development towards impactful careers.

Download CV [PDF]

 

Niyati Parek Research Timeline

Education

BS, Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Mumbai University, India
MS, Foods, Nutrition, and Clinical Dietetics, Mumbai University, India
PhD, Nutritional Sciences (minor Population Health Sciences), University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI

Areas of research and study

Cancer
Chronic Diseases
Epidemiology
Nutrition
Obesity
Population Health
Public Health Nutrition

Publications

Publications

A need for diet assessment technology for South Asians living in the USA

A systematic review of randomized controlled trials examining workplace wellness interventions

Development of an Integrated Approach to Virtual Mind-Mapping: Methodology and Applied Experiences to Enhance Qualitative Health Research

Ali, S. H., Merdjanoff, A. A., Parekh, N., & DiClemente, R. J. (n.d.).

Publication year

2022

Journal title

Qualitative Health Research

Volume

32

Issue

3

Page(s)

571-580
Abstract
Abstract
There is a growing need to better capture comprehensive, nuanced, and multi-faceted qualitative data while also better engaging with participants in data collection, especially in virtual environments. This study describes the development of a novel 3-step approach to virtual mind-mapping that involves (1) ranked free-listing, (2) respondent-driven mind-mapping, and (3) interviewing to enhance both data collection and analysis of complex health behaviors. The method was employed in 32 virtual interviews as part of a study on eating behaviors among second-generation South Asian Americans. Participants noted the mind-mapping experience to be (1) helpful for visual learners, (2) helpful in elucidating new ideas and to structure thoughts, as well as (3) novel and interesting. They also noted some suggestions that included improving interpretability of visual data and avoiding repetition of certain discussion points. Data collection revealed the adaptability of the method, and the power of mind-maps to guide targeted, comprehensive discussions with participants.

Food Insecurity, Associated Health Behaviors, and Academic Performance Among Urban University Undergraduate Students

Mapping drivers of second-generation South Asian American eating behaviors using a novel integration of qualitative and social network analysis methods

Ali, S. H., Gupta, S., Tariq, M., Penikalapati, R., Vasquez-Lopez, X., Auer, S., Hanif, C., Parekh, N., Merdjanoff, A. A., & DiClemente, R. J. (n.d.).

Publication year

2022

Journal title

Ecology of Food and Nutrition

Volume

61

Issue

4

Page(s)

503-521
Abstract
Abstract
This study explores a novel, mixed qualitative method to deconstruct the diet of second-generation South Asian Americans (SAAs). Online interviews of 32 second-generation SAAs were conducted usingintegrated free-listing and mind-mapping. Ranked free-lists were aggregated to identify salient drivers, while connections made within mind-maps were analyzed using social network analysis (SNA) methods. Overall, 34 distinct drivers and 247 unique connections were identified. Taste, family, and health had the highest adjusted rankings, while health displayed the strongest network centrality. Interventions aimed at second-generation SAA dietary behaviors may benefit from family-based or multi-level interventions, which consider the complex, unique dietary norms identified.

Perspective: Novel Approaches to Evaluate Dietary Quality: Combining Methods to Enhance Measurement for Dietary Surveillance and Interventions

Targeted and Population-Wide Interventions Are Needed to Address the Persistent Burden of Anemia among Women of Reproductive Age in Tanzania

Ultra-processed food consumption among US adults from 2001 to 2018

Juul, F., Parekh, N., Martinez-Steele, E., Monteiro, C. A., & Chang, V. W. (n.d.).

Publication year

2022

Journal title

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

Volume

115

Issue

1

Page(s)

211-221
Abstract
Abstract
BACKGROUND: Accumulating evidence links ultra-processed foods to poor diet quality and chronic diseases. Understanding dietary trends is essential to inform priorities and policies to improve diet quality and prevent diet-related chronic diseases. Data are lacking, however, for trends in ultra-processed food intake. OBJECTIVES: We examined US secular trends in food consumption according to processing level from 2001 to 2018. METHODS: We analyzed dietary data collected by 24-h recalls from adult participants (aged >19 y; N  = 40,937) in 9 cross-sectional waves of the NHANES (2001-2002 to 2017-2018). We calculated participants' intake of minimally processed foods, processed culinary ingredients, processed foods, and ultra-processed foods as the relative contribution to daily energy intake (%kcal) using the NOVA framework. Trends analyses were performed using linear regression, testing for linear trends by modeling the 9 surveys as an ordinal independent variable. Models were adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education level, and income. Consumption trends were reported for the full sample and stratified by sex, age groups, race/ethnicity, education level, and income level. RESULTS: Adjusting for changes in population characteristics, the consumption of ultra-processed foods increased among all US adults from 2001-2002 to 2017-2018 (from 53.5 to 57.0 %kcal; P-trend < 0.001). The trend was consistent among all sociodemographic subgroups, except Hispanics, in stratified analyses. In contrast, the consumption of minimally processed foods decreased significantly over the study period (from 32.7 to 27.4 %kcal; P-trend < 0.001) and across all sociodemographic strata. The consumption of processed culinary ingredients increased from 3.9 to 5.4 %kcal (P-trend < 0.001), whereas the intake of processed foods remained stable at ∼10 %kcal throughout the study period (P-trend = 0.052). CONCLUSIONS: The current findings highlight the high consumption of ultra-processed foods in all parts of the US population and demonstrate that intake has continuously increased in the majority of the population in the past 2 decades.

Ultra-processed Foods and Cardiometabolic Health Outcomes: from Evidence to Practice

Association between dairy product intake and body composition among South Asian adults from the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) study

Changing the landscape of South Asian migrant health research by advancing second-generation immigrant health needs

Ali, S. H., Diclemente, R. J., & Parekh, N. (n.d.).

Publication year

2021

Journal title

Translational Behavioral Medicine

Volume

11

Issue

6

Page(s)

1295-1297
Abstract
Abstract
South Asian immigrants confront a growing non-communicable disease burden, a significant issue in countries such as the USA. While efforts have slowly begun to address South Asian migrant health, second-generation communities remain underserved and understudied despite facing many of the same non-communicable disease concerns. The aim of this commentary is to highlight unique health disparities contributing to the current South Asian migrant health status and identify pathways for further formative research needed to inform subsequent development, implementation, and evaluation of health interventions targeting this community. Extant peer-reviewed literature addressing second-generation South Asian health issues was used to identify key research pathways needed to address existing gaps. Specifically, we call for (a) enhancing targeted surveillance and recruitment in research and (b) collecting data to help characterize behavioral and cultural patterns that may contribute to disease onset and progression. Expanding research on second-generation South Asian migrant health may help to develop tailored and targeted interventions.

Ecological momentary assessment for health behaviors and contextual factors in persons with diabetes: A systematic review

Food insecurity among households with children during the COVID-19 pandemic: results from a study among social media users across the United States

Parekh, N., Ali, S. H., O’Connor, J., Tozan, Y., Jones, A. M., Capasso, A., Foreman, J., & DiClemente, R. J. (n.d.).

Publication year

2021

Journal title

Nutrition Journal

Volume

20

Issue

1
Abstract
Abstract
Background: In the United States, approximately 11% of households were food insecure prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. The present study aims to describe the prevalence of food insecurity among adults and households with children living in the United States during the pandemic. Methods: This study utilized social media as a recruitment platform to administer an original online survey on demographics and COVID-related food insecurity. The survey was disseminated through an advertisement campaign on Facebook and affiliated platforms. Food insecurity was assessed with a validated six-item United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Household Food Security Survey Module, which was used to create a six-point numerical food security score, where a higher score indicates lower food security. Individual-level participant demographic information was also collected. Logistic regressions (low/very-low compared with high/marginal food security) were performed to generate adjusted odds ratios (AOR) and 95%CIs for food insecurity and select demographic characteristics. Results: Advertisements reached 250,701 individuals and resulted in 5,606 complete surveys. Overall, 14.7% of participants self-identified as having low or very low food security in their households, with higher prevalence (17.5%) among households with children. Unemployment (AOR:1.76, 95%CI:1.09–2.80), high school or lower education (AOR:2.25, 95%CI:1.29–3.90), and low income (AOR[$30,000-$50,000]:5.87, 95%CI:3.35–10.37; AOR[< $30,000]:10.61, 95%CI:5.50–20.80) were associated with higher odds of food insecurity in multivariable models among households with children (and the whole sample). Conclusions: These data indicate exacerbation of food insecurity during the pandemic. The study will be instrumental in guiding additional research and time-sensitive interventions targeted towards vulnerable food insecure subgroups.

Longitudinal dimensions of alcohol consumption and dietary intake in the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort (1971-2008)

Trends in food consumption by degree of processing and diet quality over 17 years: Results from the Framingham Offspring Study

Ultra-processed Foods and Cardiovascular Diseases: Potential Mechanisms of Action

Ultra-Processed Foods and Incident Cardiovascular Disease in the Framingham Offspring Study

Food assistance programs and income are associated with the diet quality of grocery purchases for households consisting of women of reproductive age or young children

Litvak, J., Parekh, N., Juul, F., & Deierlein, A. (n.d.).

Publication year

2020

Journal title

Preventive Medicine

Volume

138
Abstract
Abstract
Women's diet quality during reproductive years and children's diet quality during early life influence long term health. Few studies have evaluated the impact of food assistance programs and income on the diet quality of grocery purchases made by households consisting of women of reproductive age and young children. We used data from the Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey 2012–2013 (FoodAPS) to evaluate how household income, Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) participation, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participation are related to the diet quality of grocery purchases made by households that include women of reproductive age or young children (n = 2436). The diet quality of household grocery purchases was assessed with the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 2015. HEI-2015 total score (0−100) and component scores were evaluated according to household income (eligible for WIC: income-to-poverty ratio ≤ 185%; ineligible for WIC: income-to-poverty ratio > 185%) and WIC, SNAP, and WIC + SNAP participation. Median HEI-2015 total score was lowest among SNAP households and highest among income ineligible for WIC and WIC households (47.2 and 54.1, respectively). Compared to income ineligible for WIC households, WIC + SNAP and SNAP households had lower HEI-2015 whole fruit (β = −0.30, 95% CI: −0.59, −0.01 and β = −0.41, 95% CI: −0.63, −0.20, respectively) and total vegetable scores (β = −0.58, 95% CI: −0.83, −0.32 and β = −0.27, 95% CI: −0.45, −0.08, respectively). The diet quality of grocery purchases in this population varies according to household income and food assistance participation.

Greater adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet is associated with later breast development and menarche in peripubertal girls

Szamreta, E. A., Qin, B., Rivera-Núñez, Z., Parekh, N., Barrett, E. S., Ferrante, J., Lin, Y., & Bandera, E. V. (n.d.).

Publication year

2020

Journal title

Public Health Nutrition

Volume

23

Issue

6

Page(s)

1020-1030
Abstract
Abstract
Objective: To examine adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet at age 9-10 years in relation to onset of breast development (thelarche) and first menstruation (menarche).Design: We evaluated the associations of adherence to a Mediterranean-like diet (measured by an adapted Mediterranean-like Diet Score, range 0-9) with thelarche at baseline, age at thelarche and time to menarche. Data were collected at baseline during a clinic visit, complemented with a mailed questionnaire and three 24 hour telephone dietary recalls, followed by annual follow-up questionnaires. Multivariable Poisson regression, linear regression and Cox proportional hazards regression were used to evaluate timing of pubertal development in relation to diet adherence.Setting: New Jersey, USA.Participants: Girls aged 9 or 10 years at baseline (2006-2014, n 202).Results: High Mediterranean-like diet adherence (score 6-9) was associated with a lower prevalence of thelarche at baseline compared with low adherence (score 0-3; prevalence ratio = 0·65, 95 % CI 0·48, 0·90). This may have been driven by consumption of fish and non-fat/low-fat dairy. Our models also suggested a later age at thelarche with higher Mediterranean-like diet adherence. Girls with higher Mediterranean-like diet adherence had significantly longer time to menarche (hazard ratio = 0·45, 95 % CI 0·28, 0·71 for high v. low adherence). Further analysis suggested this may have been driven by vegetable and non-fat/low-fat dairy consumption.Conclusions: Consuming a Mediterranean-like diet may be associated with older age at thelarche and menarche. Further research is necessary to confirm our findings in other US paediatric populations and elucidate the mechanism through which Mediterranean-like diet may influence puberty timing.

Health behaviours during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic: Implications for obesity

Parekh, N., & Deierlein, A. L. (n.d.).

Publication year

2020

Journal title

Public Health Nutrition

Volume

23

Issue

17

Page(s)

3121-3125
Abstract
Abstract
Objective: Obesity is a risk factor for severe complications and death from the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Public health efforts to control the pandemic may alter health behaviors related to weight gain, inflammation, and poor cardiometabolic health, exacerbating the prevalence of obesity, poor immune health, and chronic diseases. Design: We reviewed how the pandemic adversely influences many of these behaviors, specifically physical activity, sedentary behaviors, sleep, and dietary intakes, and provided individual level strategies that may be used to mitigate them. Results: At the community level and higher, public health and health care professionals need to advocate for intervention strategies and policy changes that address these behaviors, such as increasing nutrition assistance programs and creating designated areas for recreation and active transportation, to reduce disparities among vulnerable populations. Conclusions: The long-lasting impact of the pandemic on health behaviors, and the possibility of a second COVID-19 wave, emphasize the need for creative and evolving, multi-level approaches to assist individuals in adapting their health behaviors to prevent both chronic and infectious diseases.

Prenatal dietary exposures and offspring body size from 6 months to 18 years: A systematic review

Litvak, J., Parekh, N., & Deierlein, A. (n.d.).

Publication year

2020

Journal title

Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology

Volume

34

Issue

2

Page(s)

171-189
Abstract
Abstract
Background: In utero dietary exposures may influence childhood obesity. Objectives: To evaluate the relationship between prenatal dietary exposures and offspring body size from 6 months to 18 years. Data sources: Articles were identified in PubMed and Web of Science (January 2010-March 2018) using the PRISMA guidelines. Additional studies were identified through a reference review of articles that met the inclusion criteria and related reviews. Study selection: Prospective cohort studies that assessed dietary patterns, foods, macronutrients, or beverages during healthy pregnancy and offspring body size. The extraction of articles was done using predefined data fields. Synthesis: One author extracted all information and evaluated bias with the NHLBI's Quality Assessment Tool. Results: A total of 851 research articles were evaluated. Twenty-one studies assessing dietary patterns, macronutrients, foods, and beverages met inclusion criteria. Consumption of a Mediterranean dietary pattern during pregnancy was associated with reduced body size, while refined carbohydrates were associated with offspring obesity. No association was observed between data-driven dietary patterns and offspring body size, as well as a pro-inflammatory diet pattern and offspring body size. Mixed and null findings were observed for the relationship between total carbohydrates, n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, protein, sugar-sweetened beverages, and artificially sweetened beverages and offspring body size. Conclusions: Adhering to a Mediterranean diet and limiting refined carbohydrates during pregnancy may influence offspring body size between 6 months and 18 years. The diverging results that exist between studies highlight the complexity of this topic.

Preventing type 2 diabetes among South Asian Americans through community-based lifestyle interventions: A systematic review

Ali, S. H., Misra, S., Parekh, N., Murphy, B., & DiClemente, R. J. (n.d.).

Publication year

2020

Journal title

Preventive Medicine Reports

Volume

20
Abstract
Abstract
Ethnic South Asian Americans (SAAs) have the highest relative risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) in the United States (US). Culturally tailored lifestyle interventions have the potential to promote South Asian diabetes prevention; however, the extent of their use and evaluation in US settings remains limited. This systematic review characterizes and evaluates outcomes of community-based lifestyle interventions targeted towards T2DM indicators among South Asians living in the US. A PRISMA-informed search of Pubmed, Embase, Cochrane, Web of Science, and clinical trial registry databases using key words pertaining to South Asians migrants and diabetes indicators (glucose and insulin outcomes) was conducted of community-based lifestyle interventions published up until October, 31 2019. Of the eight studies included in the final synthesis, four interventions focused on cultural and linguistic adaptations of past chronic disease prevention curricula using group-based modalities to deliver the intervention. Hemoglobin A1c (A1c) was the most common outcome indicator measured across the interventions. Three of the five studies observed improvements in indicators post-intervention. Based on these findings, this review recommends 1) greater exploration of community-based lifestyle interventions with high quality diabetes indicators (such as fasting blood glucose) in ethnic SAA communities, 2) expanding beyond traditional modalities of group-based lifestyle interventions and exploring the use of technology and interventions integrated with passive, active, and individualized components, and 3) development of research on diabetes prevention among second generation SAAs.

Sociodemographic differences in the dietary quality of food-at-home acquisitions and purchases among participants in the U.S. nationally representative food acquisition and purchase survey (foodaps)

The Healthy Eating and Living Against Noncommunicable Diseases Study: An Innovative Family-Based Intervention

The influence of the sugar-sweetened beverage industry on public policies in Mexico

Contact

np31@nyu.edu 708 Broadway 4FL New York, NY, 10003