Healthy Kids | Niños Sanos

Funded by the USDA-NIFA AFRI program and directed by Dr. Marilyn Townsend, this project explores the feasibility of implementing an educational intervention in medical settings to improve feeding practices of EFNEP parents with children at risk of obesity. Partners of this project include HeadStart and the UC Davis Medical Center. As part of this project, Dr. Díaz Rios is exploring the relevance of an educational component consisting of motivational stories and messages, and has conceived and lead the application of a model for the cross-cultural adaptation of evaluation tools (Diaz Rios 2017, Ontai 2016, Diaz Rios 2016).

Diaz Rios LK, co-authors: Keim N, Shilts MK, Townsend M. Development and Validation of a Vegetable Variety Pictorial Tool for Estimation of Diet Quality in Community Settings, Symposium: Novel methods for dietary assessment with socially-disadvantaged populations, International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Annual Meeting, Hong Kong, June 2018.

Shilts MK, Welk G, Diaz Rios K, Lanoue L, Ontai L, et al. Tools for Assessing Home Obesogenic Environments: From Development to Real World Applications. Symposium at the Society for Nutrition Education and Behavior Annual Meeting; 2017 July 23; Washington, DC.

Food Security Evaluation

In partnership with the GFI Basic Needs Workgroup, Dr. Díaz Rios’ team is conducting a study to explore attitudes and experiences surrounding food access to identify needs and targeted means to improve food access among students at high risk of food insecurity. This project is part of a broader evaluation plan directed by Dr. Díaz Rios to formative, process, and outcome evaluating food security initiatives at UC Merced.

Healthy Beverages in Childcare

Funded by the UC ANR and directed by Dr. Lorrene Ritchie, the aim of this project is to develop and test an online training to help providers overcome barriers to create a healthy beverage environment in childcare settings, in compliance with the California’s Healthy Beverages in Childcare Act (AB 2084). As co-PI on this project, Dr. Díaz Rios is involved in the development and cultural adaptation of materials and evaluation tools.

Signature Publications

Hispanic participation in community nutrition research
Diaz Rios LK, Chapman-Novakofski K. Latino/Hispanic participation in community nutrition research: an interplay of decisional balance, cultural competency, and formative work. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2018;118(9):1687-1699.

Culturally-relevant nutrition education
Diaz-Rios LK, Muzaffar H, Meline B, Chapman-Novakofski K. Talk, heart, hands: A culturally sensitive approach to nutrition education for Latinos with young children. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2016;48:425-429.

Validation of eating behavior mediator scales
Diaz-Rios LK, Chapman-Novakofski K. Validity and reliability of a questionnaire to evaluate eating behavior mediators of Spanish-speaking parents. Manuscript in progress.

Project Collaborations

Ortiz Lab – Dr. Díaz Rios is overseeing the collection, analysis, and interpretation of dietary and qualitative data for a project to determine the effects of almond snacking on the metabolic and metabolomics profiles of freshmen students (Dhillon 2018); and to evaluate sensory perceptions of fruits, vegetables, and nuts and their association with metabolic risk among college students. Dr. Díaz Rios has directed a study to explore college student perceptions of their food environment (Dhillon 2017, Dhillon 2019) and is a collaborator on the UC Merced FARMERS, an education project funded by the USDA HIS program.

Gonzalez Lab – Dr. Díaz Rios collaborated with Dr. Gonzalez on a project to examine health and nutritional disparities related to generational status among Mexican-identified Californians (Gonzalez 2015a, Gonzalez 2015b); and is currently co-advising Dr. Gonzalez’s doctoral student, Zahra Goliaei, on a project to explore food security among recently-arrived Afghani refugees (Goliaei 2018).

Ramirez Lab – Dr. Díaz Rios collaborated with Dr. Ramirez on a project to explore the relevance of an intervention to improve access to healthy food in rural food deserts (Ramirez 2017).

Past Projects

Residency and ethnicity influence on dietary and metabolic outcomes (Diaz-Rios 2014).
Body weight gain and psychosocial stress (Diaz-Rios 2009, conference abstract).
Physiological responses to exercise (Diaz-Rios 2008).