In the United States 45 percent of children under 18 – 32.4 million – live in low-income families.
Dr. Christine Blake is a public health nutrition scientist with transdisciplinary training in dietetics, community nutrition, program planning and evaluation, epidemiology, and sociology and has previously worked as a Registered Dietitian in clinical and community settings. Her work is guided by a general interest in improving family and child nutrition and provides insight into food-related behaviors to inform development of theory-based approaches for promoting healthy dietary intake, particularly in vulnerable populations. She focuses on understanding contextual and cognitive factors that influence food-related behaviors with an emphasis on people and organizations that shape these behaviors in children. Her work draws heavily on schema theory, and involves the use of novel mixed-methods approaches. Her methodological expertise is primarily in qualitative research and systematic data collection methods. Her research has highlighted how parents use different decision making processes when choosing foods for themselves versus their children and how the integration of work and family demands impacts food choice behaviors that have individual and family level implications. Dr. Blake was recently a co-investigator on a project funded by the NIH/NICHD entitled Snacking in young children: parental definitions, goals, and feeding practices. This project used cognitive “schema” theory to guide the development of a qualitative protocol that resulted in a detailed, empirically-driven definition of child snacking and its goals from parents’ perspective. Dr. Blake is currently leading a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and coordinate a competitive grants program entitled, Drivers of Food Choice among the poor in Asia and Africa: Competitive Grants Program. This project will solicit and facilitate research on the drivers of food choice among the poor in Asia and Africa. She has extensive experience designing and implementing studies to explore factors that influence decisions related to food in both rural and urban food insecure populations.