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

The Prepare Study

Purpose: The Prepare Study is an 8-week online program to learn about food skills that include the purchasing, preparing and cooking of food.

Eligibility: Adults with at least one child between the ages of 2-12 years old living at home, the primary person responsible for food shopping and do not currently plan meals 6 out of the 7 days of the week.

Requirements (e.g. time commitments, number of sessions): This study involves two assessments one before the study starts and one after the study ends, and 8 weekly group sessions with each group session lasting 60 minutes. Assessments and sessions will all be done using Zoom.

Compensation: Participants can receive up to $120 in e-gift cards for completion of the study.

Principal Investigator: Amanda Kopetsky, MS, RD

Contact Information: Call or text: 302-894-7949; Email: EBNL-Robson@udel.edu

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

Feeding Your Child Study

Feeding Your Child Study

Purpose: To evaluate parent feeding practices, child nutrient intake and physical activity among children with and without Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

Eligibility: Child must be at least 3 years old but less than 7 years old, and be diagnosed with ASD or be a typically developing, healthy child with no significant medical issues.

Compensation: $45

Principal Investigator: Jillian Trabulsi, PhD, RD

Other Investigator: Oshay Johnson, RD, Graduate Student, Human Nutrition

 Contact Information: Email: trabulsilab@udel.edu / Phone: 302.831.2241

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

Plan 2 Eat

Plan 2 Eat

Purpose: To learn about parent experiences’ using the meal planning app, Prepear.

Eligibility: A parent with a child between 6-12 years old.

Requirements (e.g. time commitment, number of sessions): 2 visits to the EBNL lab.

Compensation: For completion of measures at baseline parents will receive $40 and for final measures parents will receive $50.  

Principal Investigator:  Shannon Robson, PhD, MPH, RD

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

Lab Directors

Jillian Trabulsi, PhD, RD

Jillian Trabulsi, PhD, RD

Associate Professor, Director of 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.

Carrie P. Earthman, PhD, RD

Carrie P. Earthman, PhD, RD

Professor and Director of Research for the Nutrition Clinic at STAR Health

Dr. Earthman's Bio

Dr. Earthman recently joined the faculty at the University of Delaware, after spending much of her academic career at the University of Minnesota. She has been a Registered Dietitian since 1991, when she began her career as an acute care dietitian working in GI disorders, heart and pulmonary failure, HIV/AIDS, cancer, and nutrition support. She went on to earn her MS and PhD in Nutritional Sciences at the University of Illinois and the University of Arizona, respectively.

Through the use of indirect calorimetry, tracer dilution, and a full range of body composition assessment tools, her research projects focus on improving the bedside assessment and nutritional management of individuals at risk for malnutrition and poor muscle health resulting from acute or chronic disease. The broad goal of Dr. Earthman’s research program is to improve health outcomes by more effectively identifying poor muscle health, and developing optimal interprofessional management strategies to improve it in those with acute or chronic disease.

Graduate and Undergraduate Research Assistants

Graduate Research Assistants

 

Jessica Eosso is currently a doctoral student in the Human Nutrition program. She graduated with a B.S. in Dietetics and Nutrition Sciences from the University of Delaware in 2016 and became a Registered Dietitian after completing her dietetic internship in 2017. Her research interests include diet, nutritional status, and growth in infants and children in relation to later health outcomes. She is specifically interested in the role of mothers in forming infant dietary patterns as well as the infant gut microbiome. 

 

 

 

 

Samantha Rex graduated with a B.S. in Dietetics from the University of Delaware in 2016 and a M.S. in Human Nutrition in 2019. Her research interests include diet quality and diet patterns in relation to obesity, and chronic disease. Samantha will start her dietetic internship this fall and her future plans include continuing on to a doctoral program in nutrition epidemiology. 

 

 

 

Kaelyn is a Master’s student in the Human Nutrition program and she graduated with a B.S. in Applied Nutrition from the University of Delaware in 2017. Her research interests include diet quality and dietary energy density in relation to weight management and chronic disease. Her future plans include pursuing a doctoral degree in the nutrition field. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Emma Blancher is a currently a junior at the University of Delaware. She is majoring in Health Behavior Science with a minor in Disability Studies. Her future plans to include attending a post-graduate program for accelerated nursing, and plans on working with a nutrition focus. She is interested in how therapeutic diets can improve chronic medical conditions. Emma is hoping to use the information she’s learned in her undergraduate years in her career.

 

 

 

 

Talia is a sophomore health behavior science major with a minor in coaching science and writing. She is interested in working with adolescents in nutritional health and physical activity. During the school year, she runs cross-country and track while managing the running club’s social media accounts. Talia also write for the university’s independently run student newspaper, The Review. She intends to graduate in 2022 and pursue a Master’s in Public Health.

 

 

 

 

Elizabeth Weimer is currently an undergraduate Nutrition and Dietetics major in the Honors Program at the University of Delaware. She is also a member of the UD Women’s Soccer team. She plans to pursue a Dietetic Internship to become a Registered Dietitian after graduating in 2021.

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

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

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