Honors & Awards
NSF GRFP, National Science Foundation (2014)
Stanford Graduate Fellowship, Stanford University (2013)
Education & Certifications
M.S., Stanford University, Biology (2015)
B.A., Ohio Wesleyan University, Zoology (2013)
Learning one's genetic risk changes physiology independent of actual genetic risk
Nature Human Behaviour
2019; 3: 48-56
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41562-018-0483-4
Smart food policy for healthy food labeling: Leading with taste, not healthiness, to shift consumption and enjoyment of healthy foods.
Smart food policy models for improving dietary intake recommend tailoring interventions to people's food preferences. Yet, despite people citing tastiness as their leading concern when making food choices, healthy food labels overwhelmingly emphasize health attributes (e.g., low caloric content, reductions in fat or sugar) rather than tastiness. Here we compared the effects of this traditional health-focused labeling approach to a taste-focused labeling approach on adults' selection and enjoyment of healthy foods. Four field studies (total N = 4273) across several dining settings in northern California in 2016-2017 tested whether changing healthy food labels to emphasize taste and satisfaction rather than nutritional properties would encourage more people to choose them (Studies 1-2), sustain healthy purchases over the long-term (Study 3), and improve both the perceived taste of and mindsets about healthy foods (Study 4). Compared to health-focused labeling, taste-focused labeling increased choice of vegetables (OR = 1.73, 95% CI: 1.32, 2.26), salads (OR = 2.06, 95% CI: 1.06, 4.06), and vegetable wraps (OR = 3.09, 95% CI: 1.73, 5.65) in Studies 1-2. In Study 3, taste-focused labeling sustained vegetarian entree purchases over a two-month period, while health-focused labeling led to a 45.1% decrease. In Study 4, taste-focused labeling significantly enhanced post-consumption ratings of vegetable deliciousness and improved mindsets about the deliciousness of healthy foods compared to health-focused labeling. These studies demonstrate that taste-focused labeling is a low-cost strategy that increased healthy food selection by 38% and outperforms health-focused labeling on multiple smart food policy mechanisms.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ypmed.2018.11.021
View details for PubMedID 30508553
Catechol-O-Methyltransferase moderates effect of stress mindset on affect and cognition
2018; 13 (4): e0195883
There is evidence that altering stress mindset-the belief that stress is enhancing vs. debilitating-can change cognitive, affective and physiological responses to stress. However individual differences in responsiveness to stress mindset manipulations have not been explored. Given the previously established role of catecholamines in both placebo effects and stress, we hypothesized that genetic variation in catechol-O-methyltransferase (COMT), an enzyme that metabolizes catecholamines, would moderate responses to an intervention intended to alter participants' mindsets about stress. Participants (N = 107) were exposed to a stress mindset manipulation (videos highlighting either the enhancing or debilitating effects of stress) prior to engaging in a Trier Social Stress task and subsequent cognitive tasks. The associations of the COMT rs4680 polymorphism with the effect of stress mindset video manipulations on cognitive and affective responses were examined. Genetic variation at rs4680 modified the effects of stress mindset on affective and cognitive responses to stress. Individuals homozygous for rs4680 low-activity allele (met/met) were responsive to the stress-is-enhancing mindset manipulation as indicated by greater increases in positive affect, improved cognitive functioning, and happiness bias in response to stress. Conversely, individuals homozygous for the high-activity allele (val/val) were not as responsive to the stress mindset manipulation. These results suggest that responses to stress mindset intervention may vary with COMT genotype. These findings contribute to the understanding of gene by environment interactions for mindset interventions and stress reactivity and therefore warrant further investigations.
View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0195883
View details for Web of Science ID 000430638900017
View details for PubMedID 29677196
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5909917
- Selection Does Not Equate Consumption Reply JAMA INTERNAL MEDICINE 2017; 177 (12): 1875–76
- Association Between Indulgent Descriptions and Vegetable Consumption: Twisted Carrots and Dynamite Beets. JAMA internal medicine 2017
Reading Between the Menu Lines: Are Restaurants' Descriptions of "Healthy" Foods Unappealing?
Health psychology : official journal of the Division of Health Psychology, American Psychological Association
As obesity rates continue to climb in America, much of the blame has fallen on the high-calorie meals at popular chain restaurants. Many restaurants have responded by offering "healthy" menu options. Yet menus' descriptions of healthy options may be less attractive than their descriptions of less healthy, standard options. This study examined the hypothesis that the words describing items in healthy menu sections are less appealing than the words describing items in standard menu sections.Menus from the top-selling American casual-dining chain restaurants with dedicated healthy submenus (N = 26) were examined, and the library of words from health-labeled items (N = 5,873) was compared to that from standard menu items (N = 38,343) across 22 qualitative themes (e.g., taste, texture).Log-likelihood ratios revealed that restaurants described healthy items with significantly less appealing themes and significantly more health-related themes. Specifically, healthy items were described as less exciting, fun, traditional, American regional, textured, provocative, spicy hot, artisanal, tasty, and indulgent than standard menu items, but were described with significantly more foreign, fresh, simple, macronutrient, deprivation, thinness, and nutritious words.Describing the most nutritious menu options in less appealing terms may perpetuate beliefs that healthy foods are not flavorful or indulgent, and may undermine customers' choice of healthier dining options. From a public health perspective, incorporating more appealing descriptive language to boost the appeal of nutritious foods may be one avenue to improve dietary health. (PsycINFO Database Record
View details for PubMedID 28541069