Project Team


The principal investigator of the Economic, Lifestyle, and Social Influences on Obesity Study is Lisa Powell. Other core members project include:

Chris Auld
(University of Calgary)
Frank Chaloupka (University of Illinois)
Sandy Slater (University of Illinois)
John Tauras (University of Illinois)
Youfa Wang (Johns Hopkins University)

Consultants include:
Lloyd D. Johnston (University of Michigan)
Patrick M. O’Malley (University of Michigan)

Lisa Powell
Telephone: 312.413.8468
Email : [email protected]

Dr. Powell has extensive experience as an applied micro-economist in the empirical analysis of the effects of public policy on a series of behavioral outcomes. Her earliest research focused on policies and trends regarding women in the labor market, including child care costs and non-standard work. In the area of substance use, Dr. Powell’s work has examined the importance of peer and parental influences on teen smoking, while other studies have highlighted the role of prices and public policies with regard to alcohol use among youth and educational and violence-related outcomes. As Director of the ImpacTeen Youth Obesity Research Team, Dr. Powell focuses her current research primarily on assessing the importance of economic and environmental factors (such as food prices and access to food stores, eating places, and parks, gyms and other facilities for physical activity) as determinants of the prevalence of overweight and obesity. Dr. Powell joined the Health Policy Center in 2001 and became assistant director in 2004. She is also a fellow of the School of Policy Studies at Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada.

TO TOP

Chris Auld
Telephone: 403.220.4098
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Auld is an Associate Professor in the Economics department at the University of Calgary. He holds a B.Sc. (Hons) from the University of Victoria and a Ph.D. in Economics from Queen’s University at Kingston. Dr. Auld’s research focuses on applications of econometric methods to health-related behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and risky sex. Dr. Auld’s current research focuses on econometric modeling of the social determinants of obesity. His research has appeared in journals such as the Journal of Labor Economics, Journal of Health Economics, Canadian Journal of Economics, and the Journal of Human Resources.

TO TOP

Frank Chaloupka
Telephone: 312.413.2287
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Chaloupka is a Distinguished Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Business Administration, as well as a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research Health Economics Program. He is also a Professor in the Health Policy and Administration Division of the UIC School of Public Health. In addition, he is the Director of the UIC Health Policy Center. Dr. Chaloupka’s research focuses on the economic analysis of substance use and abuse, primarily among youth and young adults. He has conducted extensive research on the effects of prices and substance control policies on the demands for tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs, and on related outcomes. Most recently, through his Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) funded ImpacTeeen project, Dr. Chaloupka is examining the impact of environmental factors on student physical activity and obesity. These analyses will provide the first evidence on the impact of a variety of potentially policy-malleable influences on youth physical activity, diet, and obesity based on a nationally representative sample of youth.

TO TOP

Sandy Slater
Telephone: 312.413.0475
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Slater, Research Specialist at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is a health policy analyst whose research focuses on the impact of state and local policies, and other environmental factors on health behavior. Since joining UIC, Dr. Slater has examined state and local policies, socioeconomic, geographic and store type variation in tobacco and alcohol point-of-purchase marketing strategies and their association to youth smoking and drinking attitudes, beliefs, and behavior. More recently, Dr. Slater is investigating the impact of socioeconomic and other environmental factors on physical activity and obesity, specifically youth and adolescent patterns of diet, physical activity, and inactivity. Her National Institutes of Health-funded research examines the importance of school and community physical activity settings and opportunities on youth physical activity levels, overweight and obesity. In addition, she has developed a guide that inventories existing obesity-related data sources, identifies what factors are currently being measured, and what is missing from existing sources to determine what measures should be developed for future research.

TO TOP

John Tauras
Telephone: 312.413.3289
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Tauras is an Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He also holds a Research Associate appointment at the National Bureau of Economic Research’s Health Economics Program, which he has been affiliated with since January 1999. Prior to his appointment at UIC, Dr. Tauras was a fellow at the University of Michigan as part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Scholars in Health Policy Research Program. Dr. Tauras’ research focuses on the economic determinants health. Much of his research has examined the impact of government intervention on the demand for tobacco, alcohol, and illicit drugs. More recently, Dr. Tauras is investigating the impact of economic incentives on physical activity and obesity. Dr. Tauras’ research has resulted in numerous publications and professional presentations and has been funded by the National Institute of Health/National Cancer Institute, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare. He has served as an advisor to the World Bank on the economics of tobacco control and has acted as a consultant to other private organizations and businesses.

TO TOP

Youfa Wang
Telephone: 410.502.3102
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Wang is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Human Nutrition, Departments of International Health and Epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Before joining Johns Hopkins University, he worked as an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago for over three years. Dr. Wang’s research focuses on two themes: Childhood obesity and chronic disease; and International health. His research interests include nutritional epidemiology; childhood obesity; growth; lifestyles; sexual maturation; chronic disease; health disparities; calcium and dairy consumption and health; international health; longitudinal data analysis. He has extensive experience studying obesity, other chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndromes, eating behavior, child growth. His ongoing research is funded by the NIH and USDA. He is the PI of a NIH/NIDDK funded school-based randomized intervention trial to test a school-based obesity prevention program in low-SES African American school children in 4 Chicago Public Schools. Dr. Wang serves on a number of national and international expert panels and review committees including several NIH grant review committees and the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF). He served on a WHO Expert Working Group to assist the development of a new international growth reference for children and adolescents; and he is also a United Nations (UN) consultant to help write a chapter regarding youth’s leisure time activity and its linkage with obesity in the developed world in the UN 2007 World Youth Report.

TO TOP

CONSULTANTS

Lloyd D. Johnston
Telephone: 734.763.5043
Email: [email protected]

Dr. Johnston is a Distinguished Research Scientist and Research Professor at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. As principal investigator of the Monitoring the Future study since its inception in 1975, he has conducted research on substance abuse and many other behaviors and attitudes of American adolescents and young adults for over three decades. (Monitoring the future now covers subjects from their early teens through their mid forties.) He is also principal investigator of the Youth, Education, and Society study-a part of the Bridging the Gap Initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation-dealing with contextual factors influencing childhood obesity and substance use. A social psychologist by training, he has served as advisor to the White House, Congress, and many other national and international bodies and has published extensively on a range of issues, including the use of alcohol, tobacco, and various illicit drugs; institutional trust; policy evaluation; childhood obesity; and the functioning of American high schools. His research interests also include international comparative studies and the application of survey research to social problems generally.

TO TOP

Patrick M. O’Malley
Telephone: 734.763.5043

Email: [email protected]

Dr. O’Malley is a Research Professor in the Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. He received his Ph.D. degree in psychology from the University of Michigan in 1975. He is co-principal investigator of the Monitoring the Future study, which has been conducting research on substance use and related attitudes and beliefs among secondary school students, college students and young adults for over 30 years. He is also CO-principal investigator on the Youth, Education, and Society study, which conducts research on the influence of contextual factors on health behavior and attitudes (including substance use, physical activity, and diet) among secondary school students.

TO TOP