Research Projects

The Behavior Technology Laboratory conducts research on behavioral approaches for the assessment, prevention, and treatment of eating disorders, obesity, and body image disturbance. This research involves testing the efficacy of community-based, clinic-based, and internet/technologically advanced mobile-based (e.g. Smartphones, ipad apps, e-health games) interventions for health behavior change.

Projects                                                                 Collaborative Projects

 Army H.E.A.L.T.H.                                                   CALERIE

 Army H.E.A.L.T.H. Intensive                                    Look AHEAD

 Female Athlete Body Project (FAB)

 Expecting Success                                                 Technology

 Women's Body Initiative (WBI)                                Emerge

 BeatGene

 Bodhi Body

 


Military Health Behaviors: Weight Measurements and Standards for Soldiers

"Army H.E.A.L.T.H."

U.S. Department of Defense (DoD):  W81WH-09-1-0616

Tiffany Stewart , Ph.D.,  Principal Investigator

As a part of the Weight Measurements and Standards for Soldiers Project, the Healthy Eating, Activity, and Lifestyle Training Headquarters (H.E.A.L.T.H.) program was developed at PBRC and represents an ongoing, 10-year collaborative effort between PBRC and the Department of Defense.  The H.E.A.L.T.H. program is designed to aid Soldiers in maintaining healthy weight status, fitness status, combat readiness, and Warfighter performance. H.E.A.L.T.H. also includes programming to aid Soldier’s family members in reaching overall health and fitness goals. H.E.A.L.T.H. incorporates cutting edge interactive technology and is “portable” (e.g. Internet, Smartphone) so Soldiers and their family members can use it wherever they are in the world.  H.E.A.L.T.H. is considered a population health program, has been deployed and tested in two pilot projects (Ft. Bragg, NC, and New England Reserves), and is being tested in the Louisiana Army National Guard (LANG).

View Weight Measurements and Standards for Soldiers Study Information Here

 

 

This program is currently being disseminated as part of the Performance Triad Program (Nutrition, Activity, Sleep) of the U.S. Army Surgeon General, Patricia Horoho.


Healthy Eating, Activity, & Lifestyle Training Headquarters II (H.E.A.L.T.H.- II)

"Army H.E.A.L.T.H. Intensive"

U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)

Tiffany Stewart , Ph.D.,  Principal Investigator

It is imperative that a healthy and fit fighting force be maintained during these times. Novel, evidence based interventions are needed to promote healthy body weight/fatness, physical performance, resilience, and personal well-being among military personnel.  The U.S. Surgeon General’s Performance Triad (Triad) aims to aid Soldiers in maintaining health by targeting nutrition, physical activity, and sleep. These key areas directly impact the physical and cognitive performance, readiness, well-being, and resilience of Soldiers and their family members. To advance the mission of the Triad, the proposed study aims to combine evidenced based tools and guidance (H.E.A.L.T.H.: Healthy Eating Activity Lifestyle Training Headquarters), previously tested in three PBRC military studies that has been developed specifically for use by Army Soldiers and their family members and a remote clinical intervention model that includes mobile tracking technology/devices for physical activity, weight and nutrition. This program is called the H.E.A.L.T.H. Intensive.  Outcome will be monitored using a computerized database tracking system and data collected in the field. study will test H.E.A.L.T.H. Intensive with Soldiers and their family members, with a randomized design. The present study will include N=80 Soldiers (Intervention group=35, Control group=35) and 80 accompanying family members.  The purpose of this investigation is to test the efficacy of an intensive intervention to assist Soldiers in meeting standards for body fat and fitness and to assist family members in the improvement of nutrition, fitness and sleep.  The intervention will include 1) An Internet/Smartphone program for weight management and weight gain prevention developed during previous DoD research. 2) Integrated remote monitoring technology/devices, e.g. smart scales, activity tracking devices. 3) Individualized weight management and exercise recommendations based on data collected from web/mobile app/devices to be delivered via web/mobile app/Smartphone; participants will not travel to a clinical facility for services. 

View Army H.E.A.L.T.H. Intensive Study Information Here


The Female Athlete Body Project (FAB)

National Institutes of Health

NIH 1 RO1 MH094448-01

Tiffany Stewart , Ph.D.,  Principal Investigator

Carolyn Becker, Ph.D., Co-Principal Investigator

Consultants: Terrence Wilson, Ron Thompson, Ph.D.

Given the cost of treating eating disorders (EDs) and the substantial morbidity and mortality associated with these disorders, prevention of EDs has considerable public health significance.  Research supports the use of a Healthy Weight (HW) program targeting small lifestyle modifications in the prevention of ED onset and in reducing ED risk factors. Research suggests that disordered eating among female athletes is prevalent, and is especially dangerous in female athletes because it increases risk for the Female Athlete Triad (i.e., low energy availability/disordered eating, menstrual disorders, and decreased bone mineral density/osteoporosis) and subsequent injury.  This study is a cluster randomized controlled trial to test the effectiveness of the HW intervention among 500 collegiate female athletes in three sites, including Louisiana State University (LSU; Baton Rouge, LA), Trinity University (TU; San Antonio, TX), and American University (AU; Washington, D.C.).

View FAB Program Information Here


 

Personalized Management of Body Weight During Pregnancy

"Expecting Success"

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK): 1U01DK094418 | 3U01DK094481-01S1

Leanne M. Redman, Ph.D.,  Principal Investigator

Tiffany M. Stewart, Ph.D., Co-Investigator

Corby Martin, Ph.D., Co- Investigator

Karen Elkind-Hirsch, Ph.D., Co-Investigator

Jeffrey Breaux, M.D.,  Medical Investigator

Stewart Gordon, M.D., Medical Investigator

 

More than 60% of reproductive age women in the US are overweight or obese and more than half exceed weight gain guidelines during pregnancy as recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Although pregnant women are believed to be a highly motivated population for accepting behavior change, they face several barriers to traditional in-person clinic weight management programs. The objective of this study is to implement a personalized gestational weight management program to overweight and obese pregnant women that focuses on healthy eating and achieving national physical activity recommendations.  We plan to enroll 306 overweight and obese pregnant women and randomly assign them to receive either usual care (Physician Directed Group) or a personalized lifestyle program for weight management called SmartMoms, delivered either in a traditional clinical setting (SmartMoms-Clinic) or remotely via a Smartphone (SmartMoms-Phone). 

Visit the Expecting Success website for more information on this study.

Visit clinicaltrials.gov for more information on this study.

 


Women's Body Initiative

Tiffany Stewart , Ph.D.,  Principal Investigator

Carolyn Becker, Ph.D. Principal Investigator

 

The Women’s Body Initiative is a program designed to promote positive body image in adult women
22 years of age and older. Pressure to conform to the thin-young ideal standard of beauty may
be greater for this population who may aspire to meet both aspects of the ideal. 
The field currently lacks research in this area.

 

This pilot study seeks to test the acceptability and feasibility of the Women’s Body Initiative
as a preliminary step toward examining the effects of this program.

Participants will attend 4 group sessions over a 4-week period. 
There will be a one month follow-up visit to complete post-test questionnaires. 
Total time of participation for each subject is 2 months.

 

Are you eligible?
Women 22 years of age and older who are able to attend group sessions and can complete questionnaires will be eligible to participate. 

Want to learn more about or screen for the Women’s Body Initiative Pilot Study?
Call (225) 763-2789


 

Comprehensive Body Image Assessment (CBI)

Tiffany Stewart , Ph.D.,  Principal Investigator

Current technology (Body Morph Assessment 2.0; BMA 2.0) utilizes a computer “morph” movie of a human body to assess body image in men and women.  This measure was created by Dr. Stewart and has been utilized and published in countless research studies/papers. Clinicians and researchers alike have found value in this tool to measure body image dissatisfaction. We have the opportunity to use this technology to create the first comprehensive assessment tool for body image using 3D technology, gaming graphics, moveable parts, and cognitive/behavioral assessment combined.  For years, the market has called for a measure that is able to assess/make an estimate of actual body mass associated with images for body image assessment. The CBI will be the first comprehensive body image assessment. This measure is currently in the final stages of development and will be tested in a pilot validation study.

View CBI Information here


 

Genetics & Binge Eating (Beatgene)

Pilot Study funded by: NIH Clinical Nutrition Research Unit (NORC), PBRC, P30 DK072476

Tiffany Stewart , Ph.D.,  Principal Investigator

Genes, behaviors, and the environment are intimately related in the etiology and maintenance of obesity. Further, the effects of the genotype can be amplified in an environment that promotes obesity.  This pilot study aims to identify genetic markers that are associated with the presence of binge eating behavior (behavioral phenotype). The primary aim of the study is to investigate the association of a behavioral phenotype, binge eating, with the melanocortin system.  This study is designed to be the first in a series of studies to investigate the relationship between genotypes and eating behaviors in humans.  This research may mark the beginnings of the attainment of knowledge towards the development of treatment programs and/or medications to be utilized in the future treatment of binge eating and/or obesity.  Ultimately, this information could aid health care providers in the development of individualized treatment and prevention programs for individuals predisposed to weight gain or behaviors that may lead to inappropriate weight gain. 


Bodhi Body

Tiffany Stewart , Ph.D.,  Principal Investigator

Body image disturbances are a core problem in eating disorders and/or obesity.  Research suggests that body image concerns may be one of the first symptoms in the development of an eating disorder and may be one of the last symptoms to improve with treatment (Stewart & Williamson, 2003). It is generally believed that these persistent body image disturbances place individuals at risk for relapse of eating disorder symptoms. In addition, it has been shown that obese persons have more body image dissatisfaction than their normal weight counterparts (Schwartz & Brownell, 2004). Body image disturbance functions as a significant risk factor, treatment factor, relapse prevention factor, and quality of life factor in eating disorders and obesity. Furthermore, research has demonstrated body image dissatisfaction rising in nonclinical men and women through the last decade. To date, body image treatment is a minor focus of eating disorder treatment programs and rarely included in obesity treatment or weight loss efforts. It is believed to be a key component to the success of individuals in these areas as well as a significant quality of life variable in the general population. Since body image concerns are rooted in biased information processing, it is hypothesized that a mindfulness-based program will be a viable way to improve body image. The purpose of the present pilot study is to investigate the efficacy of a contemplative/mindfulness-based approach to the treatment of body image in a Stage 1 study (proof of concept) with individuals who have body image disturbance, but no current clinical eating disorder diagnoses (i.e. anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, eating disorder not otherwise specified).


Collaborative Studies:

CALERIE

Look AHEAD

 

Technologies


 Emerge is an e-health, online platform that addresses a wide range of health behaviors including body image, eating disorders, and weight management.

View Information on Emerge Here