Energy Balance and Nutrition Lab

Our Purpose
Research in the Energy Balance and Nutrition Laboratory (EBNL) focuses on the energy mechanisms that contribute to desirable or less desirable weight gain, growth, and nutritional status in infants, children, and adolescents who are healthy, and in those with chronic disease. Since weight status in young childhood affects development and is predictive of adult weight status, the goal of our laboratory is help all individuals reach and maintain a healthy weight.

Research Studies

Current Research Studies

Eat Healthy for Families

Eat Healthy for Families

Purpose: To compare a low energy-dense dietary pattern to MyPlate recommendations in preschool-aged children and their parents.

Eligibility: Children 2-5 years-old with a parent who has a body mass index equal to or greater than 30 kg/m 2

Requirements (e.g. time commitment, number of sessions): This study involves two visits to the Energy Balance and Nutrition Laboratory (EBNL) lasting 45-60 minutes before the study starts, 14 visits (over six months) to the University of Delaware campus with each visit each lasting 60 minutes, and one final visit at the EBNL after the study.

Compensation: Participants can receive up to $150 for completion of the study.

Principal Investigator: Shannon Robson, PhD, MPH, RD

Contact Information: 

Energy Balance and Nutrition Laboratory
Email: ebnl-robson@udel.edu
Phone: 302-831- 2241

Infant feeding and biomarkers of satiation and satiety in healthy term infants

Infant feeding and biomarkers of satiation and satiety in healthy term infants

Purpose: Examine the effect of diet composition and feeding rate in formula fed infants on satiation

Eligibility: At birth, Infants must be healthy, term (≥37 and ≤42 week gestation at birth), singleton, appropriate for gestational age infant. At time of enrollment, infants must be:

  • ≥30 days and ≤120 days old (Date of birth = day 0)
  • Be formula fed
  • Be primarily receiving a standard (intact protein) cow’s milk infant formula and have no allergies to cow’s milk formula.
  • Must not have ever received an extensive protein hydrolysate formula (Nutramigen, Alimentum, Pregestimil or PurAmine).

Mother must be:

  • ≥18 years of age.

Requirements (e.g. time commitment, number of sessions): Mother-infant pairs will complete three, 3-hour visits to the lab. No more than 7 days between each study visit.

Compensation: Participants will receive $75 per visit, for a total of $225 if all 3 visits are completed.

Principal Investigator: Jillian Trabulsi, PhD RD

Other Investigators: Shannon Robson, PhD, MPH, RD and Dan Feldman, Graduate Student, Nutrition

 Contact Information: Email: trabulsi-lab@udel.edu / Phone: 302.831.2241

Breastfeeding in Infants with Congenital Heart Disease

Breastfeeding in Infants with Congenital Heart Disease

Purpose: To identify factors that affect breastfeeding duration and exclusivity in infants with congenital heart disease.

Principal Investigators: Rachelle Lessen, MS, RD, IBCLC, LDN and Jillian Trabulsi, PhD, RD

Other Investigators: Elsey Weisberg, BS, Graduate Student, Human Nutrition

 Contact Information: Email: lessen@email.chop.edu  / Phone: 215.590.1089

SHiP: Children 3-6 years old with a parent who has a body mass index equal to or greater than 25kg/m2.

Snacking Healthfully in Preschoolers (SHiP)

Purpose: To understand how a snacking program designed for parents and children impacts diet quality and eating behaviors in preschool-aged children.

Eligibility: Children 3-6 years old with a parent who has a body mass index equal to or greater than 25kg/m2.

Requirements (e.g. time commitment, number of sessions): SHiP involves two visits to the Energy Balance and Nutrition Laboratory (EBNL) lasting 30-45 minutes, one prior to the study start and one after the study ends. Families in

the snacking condition will also attend five, 45-minute sessions with each session occurring weekly over the five weeks.

Compensation: For completion of measures at baseline parents will receive $10 and for final measures parents will receive $15.  

Principal Investigator:  Shannon Robson, PhD, MPH, RD

Other Investigator: Amanda Kopetsky, MS, RD

Contact Information: Email:  ebnl-robson@udel.edu / Phone: 302-831-2241

Healthy Me!: Children 4-8 years-old with a body mass index equal to or greater than the 85th

Skills Training in Stimulus Control of Meals and Snacks within a Family-based Obesity Treatment Intervention (Healthy Me!)

Purpose: To learn more about the incorporation of skills training into family-based treatment programs for children with overweight and obesity.

Eligibility: Children 4-8 years-old with a body mass index equal to or greater than the 85th

Requirements (e.g. time commitment, number of sessions): This study involves two visits to the Energy Balance and Nutrition Laboratory (EBNL) lasting 45-60 minutes before the study starts, 10 visits (over three months) to the University of Delaware campus with each visit each lasting 60 minutes, and one final EBNL visit after the study.

Compensation: Participants can receive up to $50 for completion of the study.

Principal Investigator: Shannon Robson, PhD, MPH, RD

Contact Information: Email:  ebnl-robson@udel.edu   /    Phone: 302-831-2241

Self-weighing’s Psychological Effects: College aged females between the ages of 18-26 who live on campus at the University of Delaware

Self-weighing’s Psychological Effects: A randomized controlled trial using Ecological Momentary Assessments

Purpose: To determine if daily self-weighing in a college aged female population has a positive or negative psychological effect.  Half of the fifty participants in the study will be weighing themselves to assess this, while the other half will be taking their temperature to provide a control group.

Eligibility: College aged females between the ages of 18-26 who live on campus at the University of Delaware

Requirements (e.g. time commitment, number of sessions): The participants are asked to complete either daily self-weighing or temperature taking on Wi-Fi enabled scales and thermometers provided to them.  They are also asked to answer questions through out the day when prompted by an app on their smart phones.

Compensation: The participants can make up to $250 over the course of the 3-month commitment. They will only receive compensation for the tasks that they complete.

Investigator: Dr. Carly Pacanowski, PhD RD

Contact Information:  Email at cpacanow@udel.edu

Lab Directors

Jillian Trabulsi, PhD, RD

Jillian Trabulsi, PhD, RD

Associate Professor, Director Graduate Program

Dr. Trabulsi's Bio
Dr. Trabulsi started her career as a clinical dietitian at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). After practicing for six years, she went on to earn her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences at The University of Wisconsin – Madison, followed by a post-doctoral fellowship in Pediatric Nutrition and Growth at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Her research interests center upon diet, nutritional status, growth, and energy balance in infants and children who are healthy and in those with chronic disease. She is specifically interested the components of the energy balance equation that contribute to desirable or less desirable growth patterns. Her research has been funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health as well as private foundations and her work is published in peer-reviewed journals.
Shannon Robson, PhD, MPH, RD

Shannon Robson, PhD, MPH, RD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Robson's Bio
Dr. Robson is an alumnus of the nutrition program at the University of Delaware. She earned her MPH in community health education and PhD in Nutrition Science at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, and completed a National Institutes of Health post-doctoral fellowship in Child Behavior and Nutrition in the Division of Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Her research interests are focused in pediatric weight management and child eating behaviors that impact energy balance.
Carly Pacanowski, PhD, RD

Carly Pacanowski, PhD, RD

Assistant Professor

Dr. Pacanowski's Bio
Dr. Pacanowski’s research focuses on eating behavior and weight-control strategies in adults, and implications for psychological well-being. Drawing from training in obesity prevention and eating disorders, Dr. Pacanowski’s research program seeks to understand how number-oriented weight control strategies (e.g. self-weighing; fitness tracking; calorie counting) versus more intuitive approaches that do not focus on weight (e.g. yoga; mindful eating) impact both weight trajectory and psychological well-being over time

Graduate and Undergraduate Research Assistants

Graduate Research Assistants

Daniel Feldman is a Graduate Student in the MS in Human Nutrition program at the University of Delaware. He received his Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from the University of Delaware in 2012. His graduate research project is related to the effect of infant diet composition on satiation.

 

 

 

 

Elsey Weisberg is a Graduate Student and Teaching Assistant in the MS in Human Nutrition program at the University of Delaware in Newark, Delaware. She received a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from the University of Delaware in 2012. Her graduate research project is related to growth in infants with congenital heart disease.

 

 

 

 

Brielle Evangelista is a Graduate Student and Research Assistant in the MS in Human nutrition program at the University of Delaware. She received a Bachelor of Science in Dietetics from the University of Delaware in 2016. Her graduate research project is related to the relationship between mindfulness and binge eating in college females.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samantha Rex is a Graduate Student and Research Assistant in the MS in Human nutrition program at the University of DelawareShe graduated with a B.S in dietetics from the University of Delaware in the Fall of 2016. Her research interests include obesity, weight loss, eating habits, and diet and its relationship to diseases and health conditions. Her future plans include going on to a dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian and to continue on to a Ph.D.

 

 

 

 

 

Kelley Donovan is a graduate student and teaching assistant in the MS in Health Promotion program at University of Delaware. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Behavior Science/ Nutrition in 2015. Her graduate research project relates to body image and self-weighing in college females.

 

 

 

 

 

Alexa Nichols is an undergraduate student majoring in Dietetics and minoring in Health and Wellness at the University of Delaware. She will begin her graduate studies at the University of Delaware in program of Human Nutrition (MS) in the Fall of 2017. She is interested in researching innovative treatment for disordered eating and aspires to promote healthy lifestyles.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Olivia Alexander is a Senior Research Assistant at the University of Delaware studying Dietetics and Public Health. After graduating in Fall 2018, she plans on pursuing a Dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian. She hopes to become a Clinical Dietitian and continue research in her career.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kelly Brogan is an undergraduate research assistant and is currently a junior studying dietetics at the University of Delaware. After graduating, she plans on completing a dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian. In the near future, she is hoping to help build a proposed nutrition education program for her local homeless shelter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lauren Burkett is an undergraduate research assistant and is currently a sophomore studying dietetics at the University of Delaware. She is also a resident assistant for upperclassmen and got elected to be President of the Food and Culinary Club for the 2017-2018 school year. Once she is a graduated Blue Hen, her plans are to become a Registered Dietitian and one day open up her own practice.

 

 

 

 

Adrienne Fraczkowski is a junior at the University of Delaware double majoring in Dietetics/Nutritional Sciences with a minor in Biological Sciences.  She is part of the Delaware INBRE Summer Scholars Program and is investigating the relationship between self-weighing and biological stress markers under Dr. Carly Pacanowski.  After completing her undergraduate degree in the spring of 2018, she plans to attend graduate school with the intent of pursuing a career in research.

 

 

 

Sarah Friedland is a senior Dietetics major at the University of Delaware. After graduation she plans to pursue a career in nursing, using her nutrition knowledge as an asset through an accelerated nursing program. She went on a service trip to Peru through the organization Medlife that inspired her interest in research working with children and families.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paige Heiden is an undergraduate research assistance and is currently a sophomore studying dietetics at the University of Delaware. After graduation, she plans on completing a dietetic internship so she can become a Registered Dietitian. Her research is conducted on low-income families at the WIC center in Newark, DE. She is specifically interested in working in a clinical setting with diabetic and geriatric patients.

 

 

 

Anna Bisogno Papa is a Junior undergraduate Research Assistant studying dietetics at the University of Delaware. She is currently a Resident Assistant for first year students on campus, and partners with students to volunteer with the Ronald McDonald House of Wilmington, Delaware. After graduating in Spring 2019 she plans on completing a dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian, where she hopes to be able to work in a clinical setting in pediatrics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Claire Rudden is a junior at the University of Delaware majoring in Dietetics. After graduation, she plans on completing a dietetic internship and becoming a Registered Dietitian. She is interested in working with low-income families and children in a community outreach setting focusing on nutrition education and healthy eating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Haille Tallon is a Research Assistant and a junior Dietetics student at the University of Delaware. She plans on pursuing her dietetic internship after graduation in 2018. Her main interests for her future career plans are sports nutrition and disordered eating.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alysia Vega is an undergraduate research assistant and is currently a sophomore studying dietetics at the University of Delaware, while additionally pursuing a business administration minor. After graduation, she plans on completing a dietetic internship to become a Registered Dietitian. Her research interests include obesity prevention in children and sports nutrition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alana is a junior Dietetics student at the University of Delaware. She plans to graduate in 2019 and complete the dietetic internship. For her future career, she hopes to work with children and eventually open her own practice.

 

 

In the News

Dr. Trabulsi in UDaily

Getting a Healthy Start

Dr. Robson in Delaware Public Media

UD research shows a link between parent and child diet quality

Publications

Current Publications

Pacanowski CR, Mason TB, Crosby RD, Mitchell J, Wonderlich SAB, Crow SJ, Peterson CB. Weight change over the course of binge eating disorder treatment: relationship to binge episodes and psychological factors. Obesity. Accepted 1.24.2018.

Pacanowski CR, Linde JA, Faulconbridge LF, Coday M, Safford MM, Chen H, Yanovski SZ, Ewing LJ, Wing R, Jeffery RW. Psychological status and weight variability over 8 years: results from Look AHEAD. Health Psychology. Accepted for publication 2017. NIHMSID 930078.

Neumark-Sztainer D, MacLehose RF, Watts AW, Pacanowski CR, Eisenberg ME. Yoga and body image: Findings from a large population-based study of young adults. Body Image. 2017; 24:69-75. PMID: 29288970.

Wilkinson L, Pacanowski CR, Levitsky D. Three-year follow-up of participants from a self-weighing randomized controlled trial. J Obes. 2017. PMCID: PMC5625756.

Mason, T. B., Pacanowski, C. R., Lavender, J. M., Crosby, R. D., Wonderlich, S. A., Engel, S. G., … & Peterson, C. B. (accepted pending revision). Evaluating the ecological validity of the Dutch Eating Behavior Questionnaire among obese adults using ecological momentary assessment. Assessment.

Baker S, Trabulsi J, Evans T, Smith E. Improving nutrition students’ knowledge and perceived competence to provide nutrition education to adults with disabilities via experiential learning.Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2016.12.009

Stark LJ, Filigno SS, Bolling C, et al. Learning about activity and understanding nutrition for child health (LAUNCH): Rationale, design, and implementation of a randomized clinical trial of a family-based pediatric weight management program for preschoolers. Contemporary Clinical Trials. 2017;52:10-19. doi: 10.1016/j.cct.2016.10.007. 10.1016/j.cct.2016.10.007

Filigno SS, Robson SM, Szczesniak RD, et al. Macronutrient intake in preschoolers with cystic fibrosis and the relationship between macronutrients and growth. Journal of Cystic Fibrosis. 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.jcf.2017.01.010

Goldschmidt AB, Crosby RD, Cao L, et al. Contextual factors associated with eating in the absence of hunger among adults with obesity.Eating Behaviors. 2017;26:33-39. doi: 10.1016/j.eatbeh.2017.01.005

McCullough MB, Janicke D, Odar Stough C, et al. Barriers to recruitment in pediatric obesity trials: Comparing opt-in and opt-out recruitment approaches. Journal of Pediatric Psychology.2016:jsw054. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsw054

Perkett M, Robson SM, Kripalu V, et al. Characterizing cardiovascular health and evaluating a low-intensity intervention to promote smoking cessation in a food-assistance population. Journal of Community Health. 2016. doi: 10.1007/s10900-016-0295-2

Robson SM, Bolling C, McCullough MB, Stough CO, Stark LJ. A preschool obesity treatment clinical trial: Reasons primary care providers declined referrals. The Journal of pediatrics. 2016;177:266.e1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27453375. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2016.06.027

McCullough MB, Robson SM, Stark LJ. A review of the structural characteristics of family meals with children in the united states. Advances in nutrition (Bethesda, Md.). 2016;7(4):627-640. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27422500. doi: 10.3945/an.115.010439

Robson SM, Couch SC, Peugh JL, et al. Parent diet quality and energy intake are related to child diet quality and energy intake. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2016;116(6):984-990. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S221226721600157X. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2016.02.011

Robson SM, Stough CO, Stark LJ. The impact of a pilot cooking intervention for parent-child dyads on the consumption of foods prepared away from home. Appetite. 2016;99:177-184. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26779887. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2016.01.021

Robson SM, Crosby LE, Stark LJ. Eating dinner away from home: Perspectives of middle-to high-income parents. Appetite. 2016;96:147-153. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26386299. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2015.09.019

Papas MA, Trabulsi JC, Axe M, Rimmer JH. Predictors of obesity in a US sample of high school adolescents with and without disabilities.Journal of School Health. 2016;86(11):803-812. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/josh.12436/abstract. doi: 10.1111/josh.12436

Papas M, Trabulsi J, Dahl A, Dominick G. Food insecurity increases the odds of obesity among young hispanic children.J Immigrant Minority Health. 2016;18(5):1046-1052. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26377352. doi: 10.1007/s10903-015-0275-0

Ehrenthal DB, Wu P, Trabulsi J. Differences in the protective effect of exclusive breastfeeding on child overweight and obesity by mother’s race.Maternal and child health journal. 2016;20(9):1971. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27178429. doi: 10.1007/s10995-016-2015-z

Mennella J, Trabulsi J, Papas M. Effects of cow milk versus extensive protein hydrolysate formulas on infant cognitive development.Amino Acids. 2016;48(3):697-705. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26497857. doi: 10.1007/s00726-015-2118-7

Pacanowski CR, Pisetsky EM, Berg KC, et al. Self-weighing behavior in individuals with eating disorders.International Journal of Eating Disorders. 2016;49(8):817-821. doi: 10.1002/eat.22537

Pacanowski CR, Diers L, Crosby RD, Neumark-Sztainer D. Yoga in the treatment of eating disorders within a residential program: A randomized controlled trial.Eating Disorders. 2017;25(1):37-51. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10640266.2016.1237810. doi: 10.1080/10640266.2016.1237810

Robson SM, Khoury JC, Kalkwarf HJ, Copeland K. Dietary intake of children attending full-time child care: What are they eating away from the child-care center? Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2015;115(9):1472- 1478. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25908440. doi: 10.10.1016/j.jand.2015.02.029

Trabulsi J, Irving S, Papas M, et al. Total energy expenditure of infants with congenital heart disease who have undergone surgical intervention.Pediatr Cardiol. 2015;36(8):1670-1679. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26092599. doi: 10.1007/s00246-015-1216-3

Riley AW, Trabulsi J, Yao M, Bevans KB, DeRusso PA. Validation of a parent report questionnaire.Clinical Pediatrics. 2015;54(12):1167-1174. http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0009922815574075. doi:10.1177/0009922815574075

Fullmer S, Benson-Davies S, Earthman CP, et al. Evidence analysis library review of best practices for performing indirect calorimetry in healthy and non-critically ill individuals.Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2015;115(9):1446.e2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26038298. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2015.04.003

Masullo L, Papas MA, Cotugna N, Baker S, Mahoney L, Trabulsi J. Complementary and alternative medicine use and nutrient intake among individuals with multiple sclerosis in the united states.Journal of community health. 2015;40(1):153-160. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24981322. doi: 10.1007/s10900-014-9913-z