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Robert C. Whitaker

Robert C. Whitaker, M.D., M.P.H.

Professor, Department of Public Health
Professor, Department of Pediatrics

Contact

Center for Obesity Research and Education (CORE)
3223 N. Broad Street, Suite 175
Philadelphia, PA 19140
Office: 215-707-8676
Fax: 215-707-6475
 

Education

  • B.A., Chemistry, Williams College, Williamstown, MA
  • M.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
  • M.P.H., University of Washington School of Public Health, Seattle, WA

Biography

Robert C. Whitaker, MD, MPH, is Professor of Public Health and Pediatrics. His research focuses on the life-course development of health and well-being. For almost 25 years, he has conducted research on the biopsychosocial risk factors for childhood obesity. This has included studies on the epidemiology of childhood obesity, parent-child feeding interaction, food insecurity, and obesity prevention strategies in low-income preschool children. He has also conducted research on the determinants of social and emotional well-being in children. His recent studies include a national survey of healthy eating and physical activity environments and practices in Head Start and a statewide survey of the health and well-being of staff in Pennsylvania’s Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

He served on the Institute of Medicine’s Committee on the Prevention of Obesity in Children and Youth and on its Committee on Obesity Prevention Policies for Young Children. Prior to joining Temple University, Dr. Whitaker was a Senior Fellow at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., and was a Senior Visiting Research Scholar at the Center for Health and Wellbeing at Princeton University. During the 2013-2014 academic year, he was a Visiting Research Scholar at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Course Involvement

Course Instructor

Public Health 5101 (graduate), Introduction to Epidemiology

Public Health 8202 (graduate), Epidemiology Research Methods II

Public Health 8011 (graduate), Social Determinants of Health

Publications/Presentations

 Recent Publications (Last updated June 2015)

[LINK TO MYBIBLIOGRAPHY AT NCBI]

[LINK TO GOOGLE SCHOLAR CITATIONS] 

  1. Gooze RA, Anderson SE, Whitaker RC. Prolonged bottle use and obesity at 5.5 years of age in US Children. J Pediatr. 2011;159(3):431-6. Epub date 5/4/2011. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2011.02.037.
  2. O'Brien MJ, Whitaker RC. The role of community-based participatory research to inform local health policy: a case study. J Gen Intern Med. 2011; 26(12):1498-1501. DOI: 10.1007/s11606-011-1878-3.
  3. Ludwig J, Sanbonmatsu L, Gennetian L, Adam E, Duncan GJ, Katz LF, Kessler RC, Kling JR, Lindau ST, Whitaker RC, McDade T. Neighborhoods, obesity, and diabetes: a randomized social experiment. N Engl J Med. 2011;365(16):1509-1519. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsa1103216. PMCID:PMC3410541
  4. Whitaker RC. The childhood obesity epidemic: lessons for preventing socially determined health conditions. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. Nov 2011;165(11):973-975. DOI: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2011.179. PMCID: PMC3218556
  5. Herring SJ, Henry TQ, Klotz AA, Foster GD, Whitaker RC. Perceptions of low-income African-American mothers about excessive gestational weight gain. Matern Child Health J. 2011 Dec 11. [Epub ahead of print]. DOI: 10.1007/s10995-011-0930-6
  6. Anderson SE, Gooze RA, Lemeshow S, Whitaker RC. Quality of early maternal-child relationship and risk of adolescent obesity. Pediatrics. 2012;129(1):132-140. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-0972. PMCID: PMC3255468
  7. Whitaker RC. Why feed breast milk from a bottle? Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2012;166(5):483-4. DOI: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2012.275
  8. Gehris JS, Myers EM, Whitaker RC. Physical activity levels during adventure-physical education lessons. Eur Phys Educ Rev. 2012; 18(2):245–257. DOI: 10.1177/1356336X12440365
  9. Gooze RA, Hughes CC, Finkelstein DM, Whitaker RC. Obesity and food insecurity at the same table: how Head Start programs respond. Prev Chronic Dis. 2012;9:110240. DOI: 10.5888/pcd9.110240. PMCID: PMC3468307 [Served as the primary mentor for this research for which Ms. Gooze was a finalist in the Preventing Chronic Disease 2012 Student Research Contest]
  10. Marino AJ, Fletcher EN, Whitaker RC, Anderson SE. Amount and environmental predictors of outdoor play time at home and school: a cross sectional analysis of a national sample of preschool-aged children attending Head Start. Health & Place. 2012;18(6):1224-1230. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbr.2011.03.031. PMCID: PMC3576047
  11. O’Brien MJ, Davey A, Alos VA, Whitaker RC. Diabetes-related behaviors in Latinas and non-Latinas in California. Diabetes Care. 2013;36(2):355-61. DOI: 10.2337/dc12-0548. PMCID: PMC3554295.
  12. Johnson-Dias J, Whitaker RC. Black mothers' perceptions about urban neighborhood safety and outdoor play for their preadolescent daughters. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2013;24(1):206-219. DOI: 10.1353/hpu.2013.0018.
  13. Herman AN, Malhotra K, Wright G, Fisher JO, Whitaker RC. A qualitative study of the aspirations and challenges of low-income mothers in feeding their preschool-aged children. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012;9:132. DOI: 10.1186/1479-5868-9-132.
  14. Fletcher EN, Whitaker RC, Marino AJ, Anderson, SE. Screen time at home and school among low-income children attending Head Start. Child Indic Res. 2014; 7(2):421-436. DOI: 10.1007/s12187-013-9212-8. PMCID: PMC4039202.
  15. Malhotra K, Herman AN, Wright G, Bruton Y, Fisher JO, Whitaker RC. Perceived benefits and challenges for low-income mothers of having family meals with preschool-aged children: childhood memories matter. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013;113 (11):1484-1493. DOI: 10.1016/j.jand.2013.07.028s.
  16. Whitaker RC, Becker BD, Herman AN, Gooze RA. The physical and mental health of Head Start staff: the Pennsylvania Head Start Staff Wellness Survey, 2012. Prev Chronic Dis. 2013;10:E181. DOI: 10.588/pcd10.130171. PMCID: PMC3816599.
  17. Wanat KA, Kovarik CL, Shuman S, Whitaker RC, Foster GD, O’Brien MJ. The association between obesity and health-related quality of life among urban Latinos. Ethn Dis. 2014;24(1):14–18. PMCID: PMC4009345.
  18. Gehris JS, Gooze RA, Whitaker RC. Teachers’ perceptions about children’s movement and learning in early childhood education programmes. Child Care Health Dev. 2014. DOI: 10.1111/cch.12136.
  19. Anderson SE, Lemeshow S, Whitaker RC. Maternal-infant relationship quality and risk of obesity at age 5.5 years in a national US cohort. BMC Pediatrics. 2014; 14:54. DOI: 10.1186/1471-2431-14-54. PMCID:PMC3938469.
  20. O’Brien MJ, Shuman S, Barrios D, Alos VA, Whitaker RC. A qualitative study of acculturation and diabetes risk among urban, immigrant Latinas: implications for diabetes prevention efforts. Diabetes Educ. 40(5), 616-625. DOI: 10.1177/0145721714535992.
  21. O’Brien MJ, Alos VA, Davey A, Bueno A, Whitaker, RC. Acculturation and the prevalence of diabetes in US Latino adults, NHANES 2007-2010. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:140142. DOI: 10.5888/pcd11.140142.
  22. Whitaker RC, Dearth-Wesley T, Gooze RA, Becker BD, Gallagher KC, McEwen BS. Adverse childhood experiences, dispositional mindfulness, and adult health. Prev Med. 2014;67:147-153. DOI::10.1016/j.ypmed.2014.07.029.
  23. O’Brien MJ, Garland JM, Murphy KM, Shuman SJ, Whitaker RC, Larson SC. Training medical students in the social determinants of health: the Health Scholars Program at Puentes de Salud. Adv Med Educ Pract. 2014;5:307-314. DOI: 10.2147/AMEP.S67480.
  24. Whitaker RC, Dearth-Wesley T, Gooze RA. Workplace stress and the quality of teacher-child relationships in Head Start. Early Child. Res Q. 2015; 30:57–69. [Epub July 16, 2014]. DOI: 10.1016/j.ecresq.2014.08.008.
  25. Fisher JO, Wright G, Herman AN, Malhotra K, Serrano EL, Foster GD, Whitaker RC. “Snacks are not food”: low-income, urban mothers' perceptions of feeding snacks to their preschool-aged children. Appetite. 2014 [Epub September 16, 2014]. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.09.007.
  26. O’Brien MJ, Perez A, Alos VA, Whitaker RC, Ciolino J, Mohr DC, Ackermann RT. The feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary effectiveness of a Promotora-led Diabetes Prevention Program (PL-DPP) in Latinas: a pilot study. Diabetes Educ. 2015 [Epub May 28, 2015]. DOI: 10.1177/0145721715586576.
  27. O'Brien MJ, Whitaker RC, Yu D, Ackermann RT. The comparative efficacy of lifestyle intervention and metformin by educational attainment in the Diabetes Prevention Program. Prev Med. 2015 [Epub ahead of print May 27 2015]. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2015.05.017. PubMed PMID: 26024851.

 

 

 

 

 

Grants & Contracts

itle:

Epidemiology of parenting and childhood obesity

Source:

National Institutes of Health (R21 DK104188)

Role (% effort):

Co-Investigator/Sarah E. Anderson, PhD (PI, The Ohio State University)

Goals:

To determine whether family routines around sleep and meals, when practiced in the context of parental responsiveness, will reduce children’s risk for obesity and excess weight gain by increasing their capacity for self-regulation.

Period of support:

4/15/15 - 3/31/17

Total costs:

$439,499

 

 

Title:

The impact of school start times on student sleep, health, and academic outcomes in Fairfax County Public Schools

Source:

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (72459)

Role:

Co-Investigator/Deborah Temkin, PhD (PI, Child Trends)

Goals:

To collect baseline data on adolescent sleep, health, school engagement, safety, and academic achievement to evaluate the impact of shifts in school start times on these outcomes in a large suburban school district.

Period of support:

12/15/2014 – 12/14/2015

Total costs:

$300,000

 

 

Title:

Multi-site child care technical assistance evaluation project

Source:

American Heart Association (27558)

Role:

Co-Investigator/Rachel Gooze, PhD, (PI, Child Trends, Inc.)

Goals:

To evaluate “Healthy Way to Grow,” a technical assistance program for child care centers in six US communities to help them develop and implement wellness policies to prevent obesity.

Period of support:

09/05/2014 – 09/04/2018

 

 

Title:

Early risk factors for obesity: parenting, child behavior, and attachment

Source:

National Institutes of Health (R01 DK088913)

Role:

Co-Investigator/Sarah E. Anderson, PhD (PI, The Ohio State University)

Goals:

To determine how the emotional quality of early parent-child relationships affects the risk of childhood obesity.

Period of support:

09/01/2010 – 05/31/2015

 

 

Title:

Reducing solid fat and added sugar intakes in low-income preschoolers through environmental and behavioral portion size strategies

Source:

U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture (2011-68001-30148)

Role:

Co-Investigator/Jennifer O. Fisher, PhD (Co-PI, Temple University) & Elena L. Serrano, PhD (Co-PI, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University)

Goals:

To reduce excessive energy intakes among low-income preschoolers through a community-level nutrition education program focused on reducing portion sizes of foods high in solid fats and added sugars.

Period of support:

03/01/2011 – 02/26/2016

 

 

Title:

Promotora-led lifestyle intervention to promote weight loss in Latinas at-risk for diabetes

Source:

National Institutes of Health (K23 DK095981)

Role:

Faculty mentor to PI: Matthew J. O’Brien, MD, MSc (Northwestern Feinberg School of Medicine)

Goals:

To develop and test a promotora-led lifestyle intervention to promote weight loss and lower diabetes risk in high-risk Latinas.

Period of support:

07/01/2012 – 06/30/2017

 

 

 

Research

Areas of Concentration:
Obesity
Pediatrics
Nutrition
Physical Activity
Mental Health

 

Clinical Interests

General pediatrics