Professor of Public Health Nutrition
Associate Vice Provost of Faculty Initiatives for the Office of the Provost
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.
BS, Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Mumbai University, IndiaMS, Foods, Nutrition, and Clinical Dietetics, Mumbai University, IndiaPhD, Nutritional Sciences (minor Population Health Sciences), University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI
CancerChronic DiseasesEpidemiologyNutritionObesityPopulation HealthPublic Health Nutrition
Concordance between Dash Diet and Hypertension: Results from the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) StudyHussain, B. M., Deierlein, A. L., Kanaya, A. M., Talegawkar, S. A., O’Connor, J. A., Gadgil, M. D., Lin, Y., & Parekh, N. (n.d.).
Issue16AbstractHigh blood pressure is an important predictor of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD), particularly among South Asians, who are at higher risk for ASCVD when compared to other population groups. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) dietary pattern is established as the best proven nonpharmacological approach to preventing hypertension in adults. Using data from the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) cohort, we calculated a DASH dietary score to examine the association between adherence to the DASH diet and its components, and prevalent and incident hypertension and systolic and diastolic blood pressure, after five years of follow-up. We found that the relative risk ratio (RRR) of incident hypertension was 67% lower among participants in the highest DASH diet score category (aRRR: 0.33; 95% CI: 0.13, 0.82; ptrend = 0.02) compared with those in the lowest DASH diet score category in fully adjusted models. These findings are consistent with previous clinical trials and large prospective cohort studies, adding to evidence that supports the diet-disease relationship established between DASH diet and hypertension. This study is the first to examine DASH diet adherence and hypertension among South Asian adults in the U.S.
Dietary Self-Management Using Mobile Health Technology for Adults With Type 2 Diabetes: A Scoping ReviewZheng, Y., Campbell Rice, B., Melkus, G. D., Sun, M., Zweig, S., Jia, W., Parekh, N., He, H., Zhang, Y. L., & Wylie-Rosett, J. (n.d.).
Journal titleJournal of diabetes science and technology
Page(s)1212-1225AbstractObjective: Dietary self-management is one key component to achieve optimal glycemic control. Advances in mobile health (mHealth) technology have reduced the burden of diabetes self-management; however, limited evidence has been known regarding the status of the current body of research using mHealth technology for dietary management for adults with type 2 diabetes. Methods: Literature searches were conducted electronically using PubMed, CINAHL (EBSCO), Web of Science Core Collection, PsycINFO (Ovid), EMBASE (Ovid), and Scopus. Keywords and subject headings covered dietary management, type 2 diabetes, and mHealth. Inclusion criteria included studies that applied mHealth for dietary self-management for adults with type 2 diabetes and were published in English as full articles. Results: This review (N = 15 studies) revealed heterogeneity of the mHealth-based dietary self-management or interventions and reported results related to physiological, dietary behavioral, and psychosocial outcomes. Twelve studies applied smartphone apps with varied functions for dietary management or intervention, while three studies applied continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) to guide dietary changes. Among 15 reviewed studies, only three of them were two-arm randomized clinical trial (RCT) with larger sample and 12-month study duration and 12 of them were pilot testing. Nine of 12 pilot studies showed improved HbA1c; most of them resulted in varied dietary changes; and few of them showed improved diabetes distress and depression. Conclusion: Our review provided evidence that the application of mHealth technology for dietary intervention for adults with type 2 diabetes is still in pilot testing. The preliminary effects are inconclusive on physiological, dietary behavioral, and psychosocial outcomes.
Evaluating the healthfulness of Asian American young adult dietary behaviors and its association with family structure: Disaggregated results from NHIS 2015Ali, S. H., Parekh, N., Islam, N. S., Merdjanoff, A. A., & DiClemente, R. J. (n.d.).
Journal titleNutrition and HealthAbstractBackground: Asian Americans (AA) young adults face a growing non-communicable disease burden linked with poor dietary behaviors. Family plays a significant role in shaping the diet of AA young adults, although little is known on the specific types of family structures most associated with different dietary behaviors. Aim: This analysis explores the changes in dietary behaviors across different AA young adult family structural characteristics. Methods: Nationwide data of 18–35-year-old self-identified Asians surveyed in the 2015 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) was analyzed. Family structure was measured through family size, family health, and family members in one's life. The Dietary Screener Questionnaire (DSQ) measured the average intake of 10 food and nutrient groups. Published dietary guidelines were used to calculate the number of dietary recommendations met. Results: 670 AA young adults with dietary data were analyzed (26.1% Asian Indian, 26.1% Chinese, 19.3% Filipino, 28.5% other Asian). Participants had an average family size of 2.3. In weighted analyses, 19% of AA young adults met none of the examined dietary recommendations, and only 14% met 3–4 guidelines. Living with a child was associated meeting more dietary recommendations (adjusted odds ratio [AOR]: 1.22; 95%CI: 1.05, 1.42). The adjusted association between living with an older adult and lower odds of meeting dietary recommendations approached significance (AOR: 0.70; 95%CI: 0.49, 1.00). Conclusions: Findings revealed the important role of children and older adults in influencing the diet of AA young adults. Further mixed-methods research to disentangle mechanisms behind the influence of family structure on diet is warranted.
Food Insecurity and Health Behaviors Among a Sample of Undergraduate Students at an Urban UniversityHussain, B. M., Ryan, R., Deierlein, A. L., Lal, S., Bihuniak, J. D., & Parekh, N. (n.d.).
Journal titleJournal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition
Page(s)65-80AbstractStudents at universities are experiencing food insecurity, which may be associated with health behaviors. In a pilot study to build a survey that assesses food insecurity and health behaviors among undergraduates, we distributed the survey before (Wave 1; fall 2019) and during (Wave 2; summer 2020) COVID-19. During Wave 1, 41% of students reported food insecurity and 61% met criteria for poor sleep. In Wave 2, 26% reported food insecurity and 49% met criteria for poor sleep. Students experiencing food insecurity were more likely to report poor sleep. This survey will inform recruitment and design of a scaled-up multi-campus study. (100/100 words).
Identifying and Estimating Ultraprocessed Food Intake in the US NHANES According to the Nova Classification System of Food ProcessingSteele, E. M., O’Connor, L. E., Juul, F., Khandpur, N., Galastri Baraldi, L., Monteiro, C. A., Parekh, N., & Herrick, K. A. (n.d.).
Journal titleJournal of Nutrition
Page(s)225-241AbstractBackground: The degree of food processing may be an important dimension of diet in how it relates to health outcomes. A major challenge is standardizing food processing classification systems for commonly used datasets. Objectives: To standardize and increase transparency in its application, we describe the approach used to classify foods and beverages according to the Nova food processing classification in the 24-h dietary recalls from the 2001–2018 cycles of What We Eat in America (WWEIA), NHANES, and investigate variability and potential for Nova misclassification within WWEIA, NHANES 2017–2018 data via various sensitivity analyses. Methods: First, we described how the Nova classification system was applied to the 2001–2018 WWEIA, NHANES data using the reference approach. Second, we calculated the percentage energy from Nova groups [1: unprocessed or minimally processed foods, 2: processed culinary ingredients, 3: processed foods, and 4: ultraprocessed foods (UPFs)] for the reference approach using day 1 dietary recall data from non-breastfed participants aged ≥1 y from the 2017–2018 WWEIA, NHANES. We then conducted 4 sensitivity analyses comparing potential alternative approaches (e.g., opting for more vs. less degree of processing for ambiguous items) to the reference approach, to assess how estimates differed. Results: The energy contribution of UPFs using the reference approach was 58.2% ± 0.9% of the total energy; unprocessed or minimally processed foods contributed 27.6% ± 0.7%, processed culinary ingredients contributed 5.2% ± 0.1%, and processed foods contributed 9.0% ± 0.3%. In sensitivity analyses, the dietary energy contribution of UPFs ranged from 53.4% ± 0.8% to 60.1% ± 0.8% across alternative approaches. Conclusions: We present a reference approach for applying the Nova classification system to WWEIA, NHANES 2001–2018 data to promote standardization and comparability of future research. Alternative approaches are also described, with total energy from UPFs differing by ∼6% between approaches for 2017–2018 WWEIA, NHANES.
A need for diet assessment technology for South Asians living in the USAHussain, B. M., Talegawkar, S. A., Shivakoti, R., & Parekh, N. (n.d.).
Journal titleTranslational Behavioral Medicine
Page(s)761-763AbstractSouth Asians are among the fastest growing ethnic group in the USA yet remain understudied in epidemiologic studies. Due to their unique disease profile, identifying risk moderators and mitigators, such as dietary patterns and food intake, will help to determine the diet-disease relationship that is specific to this largely immigrant population group in the USA. The aim of this commentary is to highlight the dietary traditions and acculturated practices experienced by South Asians in the USA with a call for a diet assessment instrument that adequately captures their dietary diversity. Specifically, we call for (i) the inclusion of traditional food items, such as herbs and spices, that individualize diet assessment for participants; and (ii) leveraging technology that will enhance the experience of diet assessment for both researchers and participants, tailoring the collection of habitual dietary intake in this diverse population group.
A systematic review of randomized controlled trials examining workplace wellness interventionsMurphy, B., Parekh, N., Vieira, D. L., & O’Connor, J. A. (n.d.).
Journal titleNutrition and Health
Page(s)111-122AbstractBackground: One of the influencing factors associated with weight gain is overeating as a maladaptive coping strategy to process or avoid the emotional impact of psychological stress. Psychological stress is chronically and pervasively associated with stress stemming from the workplace environment. Workplace wellness interventions have a unique opportunity to change environmental factors impacting psychological stress, which can improve individual food choice and weight management efforts. Aim: To synthesize evidence from randomized controlled trials on workplace wellness interventions that impact employee psychological stress and food choice or weight management. Methods: A systematic review was completed according to Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Selected studies were limited to English-language articles exploring randomized interventions at workplaces among adult employees and included measurements of psychometric stress and food choice (qualitative or quantitative) or biometric weight management. From the search, 10 studies were included in the final review. Results: Results were inconsistent across studies. There was no observable association between psychological stress reduction and food choice or weight management. Mid-length interventions (ranging from 6 to 9 months) had more consistent associations between intervention program implementation, reduced psychological stress, and improved food choice or weight management. Conclusions: The studies examining employee food choices and weight management efforts remained very heterogeneous, indicating that more research is needed in this specific area of employee wellness program planning and measurement. Consistent research methodology and assessment tools are needed to measure dietary intake.
Development of an Integrated Approach to Virtual Mind-Mapping: Methodology and Applied Experiences to Enhance Qualitative Health ResearchAli, S. H., Merdjanoff, A. A., Parekh, N., & DiClemente, R. J. (n.d.).
Journal titleQualitative Health Research
Page(s)571-580AbstractThere 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.
Family Involvement in Asian American Health Interventions: A Scoping Review and Conceptual ModelAli, S. H., Mohsin, F. M., Rouf, R., Parekh, R., Dhar, B., Kaur, G., Parekh, N., Islam, N. S., & DiClemente, R. J. (n.d.).
Journal titlePublic Health ReportsAbstractFamily members play a crucial role in the health of Asian American communities, and their involvement in health interventions can be pivotal in optimizing impact and implementation. To explore how family members can be effectively involved in Asian American health interventions and develop a conceptual framework of methods of involvement at the stages of intervention development, process, and evaluation, this scoping review documented the role of Asian American family members in interventions (across any health objective). Of the 7175 studies identified through database and manual searches, we included 48 studies in the final analysis. Many studies focused on Chinese (54%) or Vietnamese (21%) populations, were conducted in California (44%), and involved spouses (35%) or parents/children (39%). We observed involvement across 3 stages: (1) intervention development (formative research, review process, material development), (2) intervention process (recruitment, receiving the intervention together, receiving a parallel intervention, enlisting support to achieve goals, voluntary intervention support, agent of family-wide change, and participation gatekeepers), and (3) intervention evaluation (received evaluation together, indirect impact evaluation, and feedback during intervention). Impact of family member involvement was both positive (as sources of encouragement, insight, accountability, comfort, and passion) and negative (sources of hindrance, backlash, stigma, obligation, and negative influence). Suggestions for future research interventions include (1) exploring family involvement in South Asian or young adult interventions, (2) diversifying types of family members involved (eg, extended family), and (3) diversifying methods of involvement (eg, family members as implementation agents).
Food Insecurity, Associated Health Behaviors, and Academic Performance Among Urban University Undergraduate StudentsRyan, R. A., Murphy, B., Deierlein, A. L., Lal, S., Parekh, N., & Bihuniak, J. D. (n.d.).
Journal titleJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Page(s)269-275AbstractObjective: To explore associations between food insecurity, health behaviors, and academic performance among undergraduates at a private, urban US university. Methods: A cross-sectional web-based survey was conducted among a convenience sample of New York University undergraduates. Multivariable logistic regression estimated associations of food security (using the 6-item US Household Food Security Survey Module) and health behaviors (fruit/vegetable, beverage and alcohol intakes, and sleep), self-rated health, and academic performance. Results: Of the 257 students who completed the survey, 41% reported food insecurity. Food insecurity was associated with approximately 2-fold higher odds of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption (adjusted odds ratio, 1.97; 95% confidence interval, 1.14–3.41) and fair/poor health (adjusted odds ratio, 2.29; 95% confidence interval, 1.23–4.25). Conclusions and Implications: Increased awareness of food insecurity and associated health behaviors among students has implications for higher education's provision of on-campus food support programs.
Mapping drivers of second-generation South Asian American eating behaviors using a novel integration of qualitative and social network analysis methodsAli, 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.).
Journal titleEcology of Food and Nutrition
Page(s)503-521AbstractThis 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 InterventionsVadiveloo, M. K., Juul, F., Sotos-Prieto, M., & Parekh, N. (n.d.).
Journal titleAdvances in Nutrition
Page(s)1009-1015AbstractRefining existing dietary assessment methods to reduce measurement error and facilitate the routine evaluation of dietary quality is essential to inform health policy. Notable advancements in technology in the past decade have enhanced the precision and transformation of dietary assessment methods with applications toward both population health and precision nutrition. Within population health, innovative applications of big data including use of automatically collected food purchasing data, quantitative measurement of food environments, and novel, yet simplified dietary quality metrics provide important complementary data to traditional self-report methods. Precision nutrition is similarly advancing with greater use of validated biomarkers for assessing dietary patterns and understanding individual variability in metabolism. Concurrently enhancing our understanding of diet-disease relations at the population health and precision nutrition levels provides tremendous potential to generate evidence needed to advance public health nutrition policy. This commentary highlights the importance of these advances toward progressing the field of dietary assessment and discusses the application of food purchasing data, data analytics, alternative dietary quality metrics, and -omics technology in population and clinical medicine.
Targeted and Population-Wide Interventions Are Needed to Address the Persistent Burden of Anemia among Women of Reproductive Age in TanzaniaSunguya, B. F., Ge, Y., Mlunde, L. B., Mpembeni, R., Leyna, G. H., Poudel, K. C., Parekh, N., & Huang, J. (n.d.).
Journal titleInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue14AbstractRecent evidence suggests that 44.8% of women of reproductive age (WRA) in Tanzania suffer from anemia. Addressing this public health challenge calls for local evidence of its burden and determinants thereof for policy and tailored interventions. This secondary data analysis used Tanzania Demographic and Health Surveys (TDHS) 2004–2005 and 2015–2016 with a total of 23,203 WRA. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics to characterize the burden of anemia, regression analyses to examine the adjusted change in the prevalence of anemia and remaining determinants thereof, and the Global Information System (GIS) to map the differences in the burden of anemia in Tanzania over the period of one decade. Considering the risk factors of anemia observed in our study, WRA in Tanzania should have been 15% less likely to suffer from anemia in 2015 compared to 2005. However, a small decline (3.6%) was not evenly distributed across the regions in Tanzania. Factors that remained significantly associated with anemia among WRA in the latest survey include age above 35 years (AOR = 1.564, p = 0.007), education level (AOR = 0.720, p = 0.001), pregnancy status (AOR = 1.973, p < 0.001), and use of contraception (AOR of 0.489, p < 0.001). Our findings suggest that WRA in Tanzania aged above 35 should be the target population to accept the more tailored interventions.
Ultra-processed food consumption among US adults from 2001 to 2018Juul, F., Parekh, N., Martinez-Steele, E., Monteiro, C. A., & Chang, V. W. (n.d.).
Journal titleAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Page(s)211-221AbstractBackground: 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 PracticeJuul, F., Deierlein, A. L., Vaidean, G., Quatromoni, P. A., & Parekh, N. (n.d.).
Journal titleCurrent atherosclerosis reports
Page(s)849-860AbstractPurpose of Review: Poor diet quality is the leading risk factor related to the overall cardiometabolic disease burden in the USA and globally. We review the current evidence linking ultra-processed foods and cardiometabolic health risk and provide recommendations for action at the clinical and public health levels. Recent Findings: A growing body of evidence conducted in a variety of study populations supports an association between ultra-processed food intake and increased risk of metabolic syndrome, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, overweight and obesity trajectories, and cardiovascular disease. The strongest evidence is observed in relation to weight gain and obesity among adults, as this association is supported by high-quality epidemiological and experimental evidence. Summary: Accumulating epidemiologic evidence and putative biological mechanisms link ultra-processed foods to cardiometabolic health outcomes. The high intake of ultra-processed foods in all population groups and its associated risks make ultra-processed foods an ideal target for intensive health promotion messaging and interventions.
Association between dairy product intake and body composition among South Asian adults from the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America (MASALA) studyMurphy, B., Talegawkar, S. A., O’Connor, J., Kandula, N. R., Kanaya, A. M., Allison, M. A., & Parekh, N. (n.d.).
Journal titleBritish Journal of Nutrition
Page(s)1100-1109AbstractSouth Asians, who are at a disproportionately greater risk of atherosclerotic CVD (ASCVD), represent a rapidly growing population in the USA. The relationship between dairy products, a major component of South Asian diets, and body composition - an established risk factor for ASCVD, is unclear. The aim of the present study was to examine associations between dairy intake and multiple measures of body composition (BMI, waist and hip circumference, waist:hip ratio, abdominal lean mass, subcutaneous, visceral, and intermuscular fat areas) among South Asian adults in the USA. A baseline analysis was conducted using existing data from the Mediators of Atherosclerosis in South Asians Living in America cohort. In women, the highest (>1.9 servings/d) v. lowest (<1 serving/d) tertile of dairy intake was associated with 53 % lower odds of a waist circumference >80 cm (95 % CI 0.25, 0.89, P for trend<0.05). No associations were observed between dairy intake and measures of body composition. However, >3 servings of low-fat yogurt/week was associated with a 9.9 cmlower visceral fat area (95 % CI -19.07, -0.72, P<0.05) and 2.3 cmlower intermuscular fat area (95 % CI -3.76, -0.79, P<0.05) as compared with those with three servings/week. Milk and cheese were not associated with body composition measures. These analyses suggest that higher consumption of low-fat yogurt is associated with lower visceral and intermuscular fat in the whole sample, and women with higher dairy intake have lower waist circumference. Our study supports dietary incorporation of dairy products, and recognises the utility of multidimensional measures of central adiposity.
Changing the landscape of South Asian migrant health research by advancing second-generation immigrant health needsAli, S. H., Diclemente, R. J., & Parekh, N. (n.d.).
Journal titleTranslational Behavioral Medicine
Page(s)1295-1297AbstractSouth 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 reviewNam, S., Griggs, S., Ash, G. I., Dunton, G. F., Huang, S., Batten, J., Parekh, N., & Whittemore, R. (n.d.).
Journal titleDiabetes Research and Clinical Practice
Volume174AbstractAim: The objective of this systematic review was to summarize the ecological momentary assessment (EMA) methodology and associations between EMA-measured psychosocial, contextual factors and diabetes self-management. Methods: The inclusion criteria were: research of EMA and diabetes self-management behaviors such as glucose checks, administration of insulin and eating-and dietary intake behaviors among persons with diabetes. A comprehensive search of several databases was conducted across all dates until July 2020. Results: A modified Checklist for Reporting EMA Studies was used to assess the quality of studies. Among the ten included studies, participants were predominantly White adolescents with type 1 diabetes (T1D) and type 2 diabetes was studied in two studies. Time-varying, psychosocial contexts such as negative affect or negative social interaction were associated with missed insulin injection and poor adherence to glucose check. More preceding psychological stress was associated with more calorie intake from snacks or binge eating behaviors. Mornings were the most challenging time of day for adherence to diabetes self-management among adolescents with T1D. Intentional insulin withholding was more common in the afternoon in adults with T1D. Conclusions: EMA has potential clinical utility in the assessment of diabetes self-management and in the development of timely and individualized diabetes interventions.
Food insecurity among households with children during the COVID-19 pandemic: results from a study among social media users across the United StatesParekh, N., Ali, S. H., O’Connor, J., Tozan, Y., Jones, A. M., Capasso, A., Foreman, J., & DiClemente, R. J. (n.d.).
Journal titleNutrition Journal
Issue1AbstractBackground: 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)Parekh, N., Lin, Y., Chan, M., Juul, F., & Makarem, N. (n.d.).
Journal titleBritish Journal of Nutrition
Page(s)685-694AbstractExisting studies addressing alcohol consumption have not captured the multidimensionality of drinking patterns, including drinking frequency, binge drinking, beverage preference and changes in these measures across the adult life course. We examined longitudinal trends in drinking patterns and their association with diet over four decades in ageing US adults from the Framingham Offspring Study (n 4956; baseline mean age 36·2 years). Alcohol intake (drinks/week, drinking frequency, beverage-specific consumption, drinks/occasion) was assessed quadrennially from examinations 1 to 8. Participants were classified as binge drinkers, moderate drinkers or heavy drinkers (4+ and 5+ drinks/occasion; ≤1 and ≤2 drinks/d and >7 and >14 drinks/week for women and men, respectively). Dietary data were collected by a FFQ from examinations 5 to 8 (1991-2008). We evaluated trends in drinking patterns using linear mixed effect models and compared dietary intake across drinking patterns using heterogeneous variance models. Alcohol consumption decreased from 1971 to 2008 (3·7 v. 2·2 oz/week; P < 0·05). The proportion of moderate (66 v. 59·3 %), heavy (18·4 v. 10·5 %) and binge drinkers (40·0 v. 12·3 %) declined (P < 0·05). While average wine consumption increased (1·4 v. 2·2 drinks/week), beer (3·4 v. 1·5 drinks/week) and cocktail intake (2·8 v. 1·2 drinks/week) decreased. Non-binge drinkers consumed less sugary drinks and more whole grains than binge drinkers, and the latter consumed more total fat across all examinations (P < 0·05). There was a significant difference in consumption trends of total grains by drinking level (P < 0·05). In conclusion, alcohol drinking patterns are unstable throughout adulthood. Higher intakes were generally associated with poorer diets. These analyses support the nuanced characterisation of alcohol consumption in epidemiological studies.
Trends in food consumption by degree of processing and diet quality over 17 years: Results from the Framingham Offspring StudyJuul, F., Lin, Y., Deierlein, A. L., Vaidean, G., & Parekh, N. (n.d.).
Journal titleBritish Journal of Nutrition
Page(s)1861-1871AbstractUltraprocessed foods provide the majority of energy content in the American diet, yet little is known regarding consumption trends over time. We determined trends in diet processing level and diet quality from 1991 to 2008 within the prospective Framingham Offspring Cohort. Dietary intakes were collected by FFQ quadrennially 1991-2008 (total of four examinations). The analytical sample included 2893 adults with valid dietary data for ≥3 examinations (baseline mean age = 54 years). Based on the NOVA framework, we classified foods as: unprocessed/minimally processed foods; processed culinary ingredients (salt/sugar/fats/oils); and processed foods and ultraprocessed foods. We evaluated diet quality using the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Adherence Index (DGAI) 2010. Trends in consumption of foods within each processing level (servings/d) and diet quality over the four examinations were evaluated using mixed effects models with subject-specific random intercepts. Analyses were stratified by sex, BMI (<25 kg/m2, 25-29·9 kg/m2, ≥30 kg/m2) and smoking status. Over 17 years of follow-up, ultraprocessed food consumption decreased from 7·5 to 6·0 servings/d and minimally processed food consumption decreased from 11·9 to 11·3 servings/d (Ptrend < 0·001). Changes in intakes of processed foods, culinary ingredients and culinary preparations were minimal. Trends were similar by sex, BMI and smoking status. DGAI-2010 score increased from 60·1 to 61·5, P < 0·001. The current study uniquely describes trends in diet processing level in an ageing US population, highlighting the longstanding presence of ultraprocessed foods in the American diet. Given the poor nutritional quality of ultraprocessed foods, public health efforts should be designed to limit their consumption.
Ultra-processed Foods and Cardiovascular Diseases: Potential Mechanisms of ActionJuul, F., Vaidean, G., & Parekh, N. (n.d.).
Journal titleAdvances in Nutrition
Page(s)1673-1680AbstractUltra-processed foods are industrially manufactured ready-to-eat or ready-to-heat formulations containing food additives and little or no whole foods, in contrast to processed foods, which are whole foods preserved by traditional techniques such as canning or pickling. Recent epidemiological studies suggest that higher consumption of ultra-processed food is associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, epidemiological evidence needs to be corroborated with criteria of biological plausibility. This review summarizes the current evidence on the putative biological mechanisms underlying the associations between ultra-processed foods and CVD. Research ranging from laboratory-based to prospective epidemiological studies and experimental evidence suggest that ultra-processed foods may affect cardiometabolic health through a myriad of mechanisms, beyond the traditionally recognized individual nutrients. Processing induces significant changes to the food matrix, for which ultra-processed foods may affect health outcomes differently than unrefined whole foods with similar nutritional composition. Notably, the highly degraded physical structure of ultra-processed foods may affect cardiometabolic health by influencing absorption kinetics, satiety, glycemic response, and the gut microbiota composition and function. Food additives and neo-formed contaminants produced during processing may also play a role in CVD risk. Key biological pathways include altered serum lipid concentrations, modified gut microbiota and host-microbiota interactions, obesity, inflammation, oxidative stress, dysglycemia, insulin resistance, and hypertension. Further research is warranted to clarify the proportional harm associated with the nutritional composition, food additives, physical structure, and other attributes of ultra-processed foods. Understanding how ultra-processing changes whole foods and through which pathways these foods affect health is a prerequisite for eliminating harmful processing techniques and ingredients.
Ultra-Processed Foods and Incident Cardiovascular Disease in the Framingham Offspring StudyJuul, F., Vaidean, G., Lin, Y., Deierlein, A. L., & Parekh, N. (n.d.).
Journal titleJournal of the American College of Cardiology
Page(s)1520-1531AbstractBackground: Ultra-processed foods provide 58% of total energy in the U.S. diet, yet their association with cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains understudied. Objectives: The authors investigated the associations between ultra-processed foods and CVD incidence and mortality in the prospective Framingham Offspring Cohort. Methods: The analytical sample included 3,003 adults free from CVD with valid dietary data at baseline. Data on diet, measured by food frequency questionnaire, anthropometric measures, and sociodemographic and lifestyle factors were collected quadrennially from 1991 to 2008. Data regarding CVD incidence and mortality were available until 2014 and 2017, respectively. Ultra-processed foods were defined according to the NOVA framework. The authors used Cox proportional hazards models to determine the multivariable association between ultra-processed food intake (energy-adjusted servings per day) and incident hard CVD, hard coronary heart disease (CHD), overall CVD, and CVD mortality. Multivariable models were adjusted for age, sex, education, alcohol consumption, smoking, and physical activity. Results: During follow-up (1991 to 2014/2017), the authors identified 251, 163, and 648 cases of incident hard CVD, hard CHD, and overall CVD, respectively. On average, participants consumed 7.5 servings per day of ultra-processed foods at baseline. Each additional daily serving of ultra-processed foods was associated with a 7% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.03 to 1.12), 9% (95% CI: 1.04 to 1.15), 5% (95% CI: 1.02 to 1.08), and 9% (95% CI: 1.02 to 1.16) increase in the risk of hard CVD, hard CHD, overall CVD, and CVD mortality, respectively. Conclusions: The current findings support that higher consumption of ultra-processed foods is associated with increased risk of CVD incidence and mortality. Although additional research in ethnically diverse populations is warranted, these findings suggest cardiovascular benefits of limiting ultra-processed foods.
Food assistance programs and income are associated with the diet quality of grocery purchases for households consisting of women of reproductive age or young childrenLitvak, J., Parekh, N., Juul, F., & Deierlein, A. (n.d.).
Journal titlePreventive Medicine
Volume138AbstractWomen'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 girlsSzamreta, E. A., Qin, B., Rivera-Núñez, Z., Parekh, N., Barrett, E. S., Ferrante, J., Lin, Y., & Bandera, E. V. (n.d.).
Journal titlePublic Health Nutrition
Page(s)1020-1030AbstractObjective: 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.