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Arnold School of Public Health

Arnold School further bolsters childhood obesity prevention efforts by welcoming Elizabeth Adams

January 6, 2022 | Erin Bluvas,

Elizabeth Adams has joined the Arnold School as an assistant professor in the Department of Exercise Science and a faculty affiliate with the Research Center for Child Well-Being. Her research focuses on the promotion of healthy dietary patterns and sleep patterns among children.

Originally interested in pediatric or sports medicine, Adams almost didn’t pursue a career in public health. She discovered the field during her senior year as an undergraduate at the University of Florida when she took a course in advanced exercise physiology.

“The class introduced me to the concept of ‘exercise as medicine,’ and changed my whole career trajectory,” Adams says. “I had never really thought about exercise as public health for disease prevention. Learning that I could improve disease risk through lifestyle behaviors opened my eyes to the world of research.”

After discovering a particular passion for pediatric obesity prevention, Adams completed an M.S. in Kinesiology (University of Connecticut), where she was the Assistant Director of Elite Athlete Health and Performance at the Korey Stringer Institute. She then earned a Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences (The Pennsylvania State University), where she was a USDA Childhood Obesity Prevention Training Fellow. Adams spent the next two years as a National Cancer Institute T32 Postdoctoral Fellow (Massey Cancer Center) and a Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Children’s Hospital of Richmond, Healthy Lifestyles Center) at Virginia Commonwealth University, exploring the intersection of children’s exercise, diet and sleep. 

My goal is to contribute new knowledge that informs programs and policies to ensure all children have the opportunity for a healthy future.

-Elizabeth Adams, assistant professor of exercise science

Adams arrived at the Arnold School in August to continue researching how promoting dietary patterns in children and their families can prevent pediatric obesity and reduce nutrition inequalities. She is also interested in developing ways to promote optimal sleep patterns in early childhood.

“I focus on family-level factors in under-resourced communities that influence the development of children's lifestyle behaviors to prevent later-life disease risk,” Adams says. “My goal is to contribute new knowledge that informs programs and policies to ensure all children have the opportunity for a healthy future.”

"Elizabeth brings an expertise that not only complements existing strengths in the department, but also adds uniqueness that will pay dividends," says exercise science chair Shawn Arent. "She will play an important role in bolstering future plans and directions for the department."

Her previous work has included investigations into existing policies, such as the National School Lunch Program and Child Tax Credit legislation, to ensure children from all income levels have access to healthful nutrition. One of the reasons Adams decided to join UofSC was the opportunity to be an investigator with the Arnold School Obesity Initiative and the Research Center for Child Well-Being, a National Institutes of Health-funded group of prevention researchers. 

“Being part of these groups is an exciting opportunity to approach obesity more holistically by considering children's physical and emotional health and to collaborate with new colleagues,” Adams says. “I am most looking forward to bringing my pediatric nutrition expertise to the Department of Exercise Science, and I can't wait to expand the available opportunities for students, research and classes related to this area of public health.”

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