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Jennifer Savage Williams
Jennifer Savage Williams
Associate Professor
Director, Center for Childhood Obesity Research
Summary Statement

Behavioral (feeding practices, sleep) and individual factors that impact food intake; Responsive parenting; Clinical and community-based childhood obesity prevention interventions

Department
  • Nutritional Sciences - NUTR
  • Graduate Program
  • Center for Childhood Obesity Research - CCOR
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Education
  • Ph.D., The Pennsylvania State University (2008) BS in Nutrition & Dietetics; Dietetics & Sports Nutrition, Mansfield University (2000)
Currently Accepting Graduate Students
Professional Credentials

Ph.D.

Affiliations
  • American Academy of Pediatrics
  • The Pennsylvania Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC)
  • Head Start
  • Hershey Medical Center
  • Geisinger Health System
Interests
  • developing effective and efficient prenatal and postnatal interventions
  • promote health and well-being across the lifespan
  • promotes interdisciplinary research that focuses on developing effective and efficient prenatal and postnatal behavioral
  • address childhood obesity to attract resources and recognition
Specializations
  • Conduct experimental research that will serve as the evidence base for developing successful interventions to prevent maternal and childhood obesity
  • Identify individual and contextual factors that influence food preferences, the developing controls of food intake, and obesity risk among children
  • Teach responsive parenting (responding contingently, promptly, and in ways that are developmentally appropriate) to promote self-regulatory skills in children, in turn promoting healthy growth
  • Incorporate e-health technology to develop cost-effective interventions
  • Build, optimize, and evaluate multi-faceted interventions delivered in clinical and community settings designed to prevent pediatric obesity
Grants and Research Projects
  •  1 R01 DK120754-01 National Institute of Health.   ONE PATH:  Optimizing Nutrition Education for Parents and Teachers for Healthy Growth. The overall objective of the ONE PATH study is to design an optimized, scalable multi-component responsive feeding intervention that changes caregiver feeding practices (Head Start providers and parents) and the food environment (home and HEAD Start classroom) to promote child appetite self-regulation and healthy food among underserved preschoolers (age 3-5 years) living in rural poverty. ONE PATH will intervene on 816 families in 48 classrooms, divided into 3 cohorts with each cohort receiving the intervention throughout 1 school year (Sept through May).
  • 1 R40 MC28317-01-00 United States Department of Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal and Child Health.   Evaluating Coordination of Care Between Pediatricians and WIC Nutritionists: Early Obesity Prevention for WIC Mothers and Children. To examine the effects of an innovative 6 month intervention that coordinates care between primary care providers and the Pennsylvania Special Supplemental Nutrition Program Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to promote responsive parenting and optimize primary prevention of early pediatric obesity.
  • 2 R01 DK088244-07A1 National Institute of Health/NIDDK. Preventing Obesity through Interventions during Infancy. This research will test the sustained effects of a novel responsive parenting early intervention program to prevent childhood obesity. Effects on BMI at ages 6 and 9 will be tested, as will, the early intervention effects on parenting and behavioral outcomes.
  • 1 R56 HL126799-01 National Institute of Health/NHLBI. Using Dynamical Systems Modeling to Understand the Effects of an Individually Tailored Prenatal Weight Gain Intervention on Fetal Growth and Postnatal Obesity Risk. The goal of the research is to use control systems engineering principles and dynamical modeling approaches to examine the cross-over effect of an adaptive behavioral intervention to manage gestational weight gain on fetal growth, postpartum maternal weight, and infant growth over the first year of life.

  • 4000008692 United States Department of Agriculture, Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare; Pennsylvania Nutrition Education TRACKS. Promoting Healthy Dietary Behaviors among Low-Income Families. The goal of this program is to deliver obesity prevention interventions designed to promote healthy eating behaviors among low income families, and to increase the willingness of low-income children to try new foods. We are also working with our Head Start partners to improve the environment in their centers to better support healthy eating behaviors and daily physical activity for the children enrolled. We are also developing and testing the efficacy of an interactive online responsive feeding curriculum that targets low-income parents of infants and toddlers. 
Publications

Complete List of Published Work in MyBibliography: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/jennifer.williams.1/bibliography/47338423/public/?sort=date&direction=ascending

PUBLICATIONS - Refereed Journal Articles:

*Graduate Students & Post Docs, **Undergrad Students, ***Co-Supervised Post Docs

  • Savage JS, Hohman EE, McNitt KM*, Pauley AM, Leonard KS, Turner T, Pauli JM, Gernand AD, Rivera DE, Symons Downs D. Uncontrolled eating during pregnancy predicts fetal growth: The Healthy Mom Zone Trial. Nutrients. (2019).
  • Bailey-Davis L, Kling SM, Wood GC, Cochran WJ, Mowery JW, Savage JS, Stametz RA, Welk GJ. Feasibility of enhancing well child visits with family nutrition and physical activity risk assessment on body mass index. Obesity Science & Practice. (2019).
  • Paul IM, Hohman EE, Birch LL, Shelly A, Vallotton CD, Savage JS. Exploring Infant Signing to Enhance Responsive Parenting: Findings from the INSIGHT Study. Maternal & Child Nutrition. (2019). 
  • Adams EL*, Marini ME, Leonard KS, Symons Downs D, Paul IM, Kraschnewski JL, Kjerulff KH Savage JS. Patterns of gestational weight gain and large-for-gestational age across consecutive pregnancies. Women's Health Issues. (2018).
  • Hohman EE, Balantekin KN, Birch LL, Savage JS. Dieting is associated with reduced bone mineral accrual in a longitudinal cohort of adolescent girls. BMC Public Health. (2018).
  • Guo P, Rivera DE, Pauley AM, Leonard KS, Savage JS, Symons Downs D. System Identification Approaches For Energy Intake Estimation: Enhancing Interventions For Managing Gestational Weight Gain. IEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology. (2018).
  • Freigoun M, Rivera DE, Gernand AD, Pauli J, Guo P, Hohman EE, Pauley AM, Leonard KS, Symons Downs D, Savage JS. A Dynamical Systems Model of Intrauterine Fetal Growth.  Mathematical and Computer Modelling of Dynamical Systems. (2018).
  • Pattison K, Kraschnewski JL, Lehman EB, Savage JS, Symons Downs D, Leonard KS, Adams EL*, Paul IM, Kjerulff KH. Breastfeeding Initiation and Duration and Child Health Outcomes in the First Baby Study. Preventive Medicine. (2018). 118:1-6.
  • Pauley AM, Hohman EE, Savage JS, Rivera DE, Guo P, Leonard KS, Symons Downs D. Gestational Weight Gain Intervention impacts determinants of healthy eating and exercise in overweight/obese pregnant women. Journal of Obesity. ( 2018)
  • Eagleton SG*, Hohman EE, Verdiglione BS, Birch LL, Paul IM, Savage JS. INSIGHT Study Maternal Return to Work and Infant Weight Outcomes. Academic Pediatrics. (2018).
  • Craig SJ, Blankenberg D, Parodi ACL, Paul IM, Birch LL, Savage JS, Marini ME,  Stokes JL, Nekrutenko A, Reimherr M, Chiaromonte F, Makova KD. Child Weight Gain Trajectories Linked to Oral Microbiota Composition. Scientific Reports. (2018). Sep 19;8(1):14030.
  • Savage JS, Kling SM***, Cook A, Hess LB, Lutcher S, Marini ME, Mowery J, Hayward S, Hassink S, Hosterman JF, Paul IM, Seiler C, Bailey-Davis L. A Patient-Centered, Coordinated Care Approach Delivered by Community and Pediatric Primary Care Providers to Promote Responsive Parenting: Pragmatic Randomized Clinical Trial Rationale and Protocol. BMC Pediatrics. (2018). 18(1):293
  • Paul IM, Savage JS, Anzman-Frasca S, Marini ME, Beiler J, Hess LB, Loken E, Birch LL. Effect of a Responsive Parenting Educational Intervention on Childhood Weight Outcomes at 3 Years of Age: The INSIGHT Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatrics. (2018). 320(5):461-468.
  • Savage JS, Hohman EE, Marini ME, Shelly A, Paul IM, Birch LL.  INSIGHT responsive parenting intervention and infant feeding practices: randomized clinical trial. International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. (2018). 15(1):64.
  • Balantekin KN, Hohman EE, Adams EL*, Marini ME, Ventura AK, Birch LL, Savage JS. More rapid increase in BMI from age 5-15 is associated with elevated weight status at age 24 among non-Hispanic White females. Eating Behaviors. (2018). 31:12-17.
  • Anzman-Frasca SL, Paul IM, Moding KJ, Savage JS, Hohman EE,  Birch LL. Effects of the INSIGHT Obesity Preventive Intervention on Reported and Observed Infant Temperament. Journal of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. (2018).  
  • Symons Downs D., Savage JS, Rivera DE, Collins, LM, Smyth J, Rolls B, Hohman EE, McNitt K, Kunselman A, Stetter C, Pauley AM, Leonard KS, Guo P. Individually-Tailored, Adaptive Intervention to manage gestational weight gain: Protocol for a Randomized Controlled Trial in Overweight and Obese Women. JMIR Research Protocols. (2018). 7(6):e150.
  • Zhu Y, Savage JS, Ghosh D. A kernel-based metric for balance assessment. Journal of Causal Inference. (2018).
  • Adams EL*, Marini ME, Stokes J, Birch LL, Paul IM, Savage JS. INSIGHT Responsive Parenting Intervention reduces infant's screen time and television exposure. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. (2018). 15 (1):24.
  • Bailey-Davis L, Kling SM***, Cochran WJ, Hassink S, Hess LB, Franceschelli-Hosterman J, Lutcher S, Marini ME, Mowery J, Paul IM, Savage JS. Integrating and coordinating care between the Women, Infants, and Children Program and pediatricians to improve patient-centered preventive care for healthy growth. Translational Behavioral Medicine. (2018).
  • Balantekin KN*, Birch LL, Savage JSFamily, friend, and media factors are associated with patterns of weight-control behavior among adolescent girls. Eating and Weight Disorders - Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity (2018). 23(2):215-223.
  • Hohman EE*, Savage JS, Birch LL, Beiler JS, Paul IM. Pacifier Use and Early Life Weight Outcomes in the Intervention Nurses Start Infants Growing on Healthy Trajectories Study. Childhood Obesity. (2017). 14(1):58-66.
  • Paul IM, Hohman EE*, Loken E, Savage JS, Anzman-Frasca S, Carper P, Marini ME,  Birch LL. Mother-Infant Room Sharing and Sleep Outcomes in the INSIGHT Study. Pediatrics (2017). 140(1). pii: e20170122.
  • Adams EL*, Savage JS. From the children's perspective: What are candy, snacks, and meals? Appetite (2017). 116:215-222.
  • Rose CM*, Birch LL, Savage JS.  Dietary patterns in infancy are associated with child diet and weight outcomes at 6 years. International Journal of Obesity (2017). 41(5):783-788.
  • Savage JS, Rollins BY*, Kugler KC, Birch LL, Marini ME. Development of a theory-based questionnaire to assess structure and control in parent feeding (SCPF). International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (2017). 14(1):9.
  • Hohman EE*, Paul IM, Birch LL, Savage JS. INSIGHT Responsive Parenting Intervention is associated with healthier patterns of dietary exposures in infants. Obesity (Silver Spring) (2017). 25(1):185-191.
  •  English LK, Fearnbach SN, Wilson SJ, Fisher JO, Savage JS, Rolls BJ, Keller KL. Food portion size and energy density evoke different patterns of brain activation in children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2017). 105(2):295-305.
  • Kugler KC, Balantekin, KN*, Birch LL, Savage JS. Application of the multiphase optimization strategy to a pilot study: an empirical example targeting obesity among children of low-income mothers.  BMC Public Health (2016). 16(1):1181.
  • Balantekin KN*, Birch LL, Savage JS.  Eating in the absence of hunger during childhood predicts self-reported binge eating in adolescence. Eating Behaviors (2016). 24:7-10.
  • Berger  PK, Hohman EE*, Marini ME, Savage JS, Birch LL. Girls' picky eating in childhood is associated with normal weight status from ages 5 to 15 y. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (2016). 104(6):1577-1582.
  • Savage JS, Neshteruk CD**, Balantekin KN*, Birch LL. Low-Income Women’s Feeding Practices and Perceptions of Dietary Guidance: A Qualitative Study. Maternal and Child Health Journal. (2016). 20(12): 2510-2517.
  • English LK, Fearnbach SN, Lasschuijt M, Schlegel A, Anderson K, Harris S, Wilson SJ, Fisher JO, Savage JS, Rolls BY, Keller KL. Brain regions implicated in inhibitory control and appetite regulation are activated in response to food portion size and energy density in children. International Journal of Obesity (2016). 40(10):1515-1522.
  • Paul IM, Savage JS, Anzman-Frasca SL, Marini ME, Mindell JA, Birch LL. INSIGHT Responsive Parenting Intervention and Infant Sleep. Pediatrics (2016). 138(1):e20160762.
  • Savage JS, Birch LL, Marini ME, Anzman-Frasca SL, Paul IM.  Effect of the INSIGHT Responsive Parenting Intervention on Rapid Infant Weight Gain and Overweight Status at Age 1 Year: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Pediatrics. Journal Club Article of the Month. (2016). 170(8):742-9.
  • Coffman DL, Balantekin KN*, Savage JS.  Using Propensity Methods to Assess Causal Effects of Mothers’ Dieting Behavior on Daughters’ Early Dieting Behavior. Pediatric Obesity (2016).  12(5):334-40.
  • Fearnbach SN, English LK, Lasschuijt M, Wilson SJ, Savage JS, Fisher JO, Rolls B, Keller K. Brain response to images of food varying in energy density is associated with body composition in 7- to 10-year-old children: Results of an exploratory study. SSIB Special Issue in Physiology & Behavior (2016). 162:3-9.
  • Savage JS, Birch LL. WIC mothers’ depressive symptoms are associated with greater use of feeding to soothe, regardless of perceived child negativity. International Journal of Pediatric Obesity (2016). 12(2):155-162.
  • Rose CM*, Savage JS, Birch LL. Patterns of early dietary exposures have implications for maternal and child weight outcomes. Obesity(Silver Spring) (2015). 24(2):430-8.
  • Rollins BY*, Savage JS, Fisher JO, Birch LL. Alternatives to restrictive feeding practices to promote self-regulation in childhood: a developmental perspective. Pediatric Obesity (2015).  11(5):326-32.
  • Balantekin KN*, Birch LL, Savage JS. Patterns of weight-control behavior among 15 year old girls.  International Journal of Eating Disorders (2015). 48(6): 589-600.
  • Zhu Y, Ghosh D, Coffman DL, Savage JS, Birch LL. Estimating controlled direct effects of restrictivefeeding practices in the 'Early dieting in girls' study. Journal of the Royal Statistical Society. (2015). 88:11-6.
  • Birch LL, Savage JS, Fisher JO.  Right sizing prevention. Food portion size effects on children's eating and weight.  Appetite (2015). 88:11-6.
  • Zhu Y, Schonbach M, Coffman DL, Savage JS. Variable selection for propensity score estimation via balancing covariates. Epidemiology (2015). 26(2):E-14-5.
  • Symons Downs D, Rauff EL, Savage JS.  Falling Short of Guidelines? Nutrition and Weight Gain Knowledge in Pregnancy. Journal of Women’s Health Care (2014). 3. pii: 10000184.
  • Balantekin KN*, Savage JS, Marini ME, Birch LL.  Parental encouragement of dieting promotes daughters’ early dieting. Appetite. (2014). 80:190-6.
  • Paul IM, Savage JS, Anzman-Frasca SL, Beiler JS, Makova KD, Marini ME, Hess LB, Rzucidlo SE, Verdiglione N, Mindell JA, Birch LL.  The Intervention Nurses Start Infants Growing on Healthy Trajectories (INSIGHT) study. BMC Pediatrics (2014). 14:184.
  • Savage JS, Symons Downs D, Dong Y, Rivera DE, Collins LC. Control systems engineering for optimizing a prenatal weight gain intervention to regulate infant birth weight. American Journal of Public Health (2014). 104(7):1247-54.
  • Rollins BY*, Loken E, Savage JS, Birch LL. Effects of restriction on children’s intake differ by child temperament, food reinforcement, and parent’s chronic use of restriction. Appetite (2014). 73:31-9.
  • Rollins BY*, Loken E, Savage JS, Birch LL. Maternal controlling feeding practices and girls’ inhibitory control interact to predict changes in BMI and EAH from 5 to 7 y. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2014). 99(2):249-57.
  • Rollins BY*, Loken E, Savage JS, Birch LL. Measurement of food reinforcement in preschool children: Associations with food intake, BMI, and reward sensitivity. Appetite (2014). 72:21-7.
  • Savage JS, Peterson J, Marini ME, Bordi P, Birch LL. The addition of a plain or herb-flavored reduced-fat dip is associated with improved preschoolers' intake of vegetables. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (2014). 113(8):1090-1095.
  • Lindgren JA*, Vernarelli JA, Savage JS, Hartman TJ. Is usual dietary pattern related to the risk of developing breast cancer? Current Nutrition Reports. (2013). 90-96.
  • Symons Downs D, DiNallo JM, Savage JS. Self-determined to exercise? Leisure-time exercise behavior, exercise motivation, and exercise dependence in youth. Journal of Physical Activity & Health (2013). 10(2):176-84.
  • Lindgren JA*, Dorgan JF, Savage JS, Coffman DL, Hartman TJ. Diet across the Lifespan and the Association with Breast Density in Adulthood. International Journal of Breast Cancer (2013). 2013:808317.
  • Savage JS, Haisfield L, Fisher JO, Marini ME, Birch LL. Do children eat less at meals when allowed to serve themselves? American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2012). 96(1):36-43.
  • Anzman-Frasca SL, Savage JS, Marini ME, Fisher JO, Birch LL. Repeated exposure and associative conditioning promote preschool children’s liking of vegetables. Appetite (2012). 58(2):543-53.
  • Savage JS, Fisher JO, Marini ME, Birch LL. Serving smaller age-appropriate entree portions to children aged 3-5 y increases fruit and vegetable intake and reduces energy density and energy intake at lunch. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2012). 95(2):335-41.
  • Paul IM, Savage JS,  Anzman  SL, Beiler JS, Marini ME, Stokes JL, Birch LL.  Preventing obesity during infancy: a pilot study. Obesity (Silver Spring) (2011). 19(2):353-61.
  • Lanza ST, Savage JS, Birch LL.  Identification and prediction of latent classes of weight-loss strategies among women. Obesity(Silver Spring) (2010). 18(4):833-40.
  • Savage JS, Birch LL. Patterns of weight control strategies predict differences in women’s 4-year weight gain. Obesity(Silver Spring) (2010). 18(3):513-20.
  • Savage JS, DiNallo JM, Symons Downs D. Adolescent body satisfaction: the role of perceived parental encouragement for physical activity. International Journal for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (2009). 6:90.
  • Savage JS, Hoffman L, Birch LL. Dieting, restraint, and disinhibition predict women’s weight change over 6 y. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2009). 90(1):33-40.
  • Savage JS, Marini ME, Birch LL. Dietary energy density predicts women's weight change over 6 y.  American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2008). 88(3):677-84.
  • Savage JS, Mitchell DC, Smiciklas-Wright H, Symons Downs D, Birch LL. Plausible reports of energy intake may predict body mass index in pre-adolescent girls. Journal of American Dietetic Association (2008). 108(1):131-5.
  • Symons Downs D, DiNallo JM, Savage JS, Davison KK. Determinants of eating attitudes among overweight and non-overweight adolescents. Journal of Adolescent Health (2007). 41(2):138-45.
  • Savage JS, Fisher JO, Birch LL. Parental Influences on eating behavior: conception to adolescence.  J Law Med Ethics (2007). Spring;35(1):22-34.
  • Birch LL, Savage JS, Ventura AK. Influences on the Development of Children's Eating Behaviours: From Infancy to Adolescence. Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research (2007). 68(1):s1-s56.

Refereed CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS:

  • Guo P, Rivera DE, Pauley AM, Leonard KS, Savage JS, Symons Downs D.  A "Model-On-Demand" methodology for energy intake estimation to improve gestational weight control interventions. Proceedings of The 18th IFAC Symposium on System Identification. (2018).
  • Guo P, Rivera DE, Savage JS, Symons Downs D. State Estimation under Correlated Partial Measurement Losses: Implications for Weight Control Interventions. 20th International Federation of Automatic Control World Congress (2017). 14074-14079.
  • Guo P, Rivera DE, Symons Downs D, Savage JS, Pauley AM, Hess LB, Stetter, C. Semi-Physical Identification and State Estimation of Energy Intake for Interventions to Manage Gestational Weight Gain. Proceedings of the 2016 American Control Conference (2016). 1271-1276.
  • Dong Y, Deshpande S, Rivera DE, Symons Downs D, Savage JS.  Hybrid model predictive control for sequential decision policies in adaptive behavioral interventions. Proceedings of the 2014 American Control Conference (2014). 4198-4203.
  • Dong Y, Rivera DE, Symons Downs D, Savage JS, Thomas DM, Collins LM.  Hybrid model predictive control for optimizing gestational weight gain behavioral interventions. Proceedings of the 2013 American Control Conference (2013). 1970-1975.
  • Dong Y, Rivera DE, Thomas DM, Navarro-Barrientos JE, Symons Downs D, Savage JS, Collins LM.  A dynamical systems model for gestational weight gain behavioral interventions. Proceedings of the 2012 American Control Conference (2012). 4059-4064.
Additional Information

Dr. Savage Williams is the Director for the Center of Childhood Obesity Research at The Pennsylvania State University and also an Assistant Professor within the Department of Nutritional Sciences. Her research focuses on developing effective prenatal and postnatal behavioral interventions to promote health and well-being across the lifespan. Dr. Savage Williams current research endeavors focus on 1) building, optimizing, and evaluating multi-faceted interventions delivered in multiple settings (community, health care, and home) that are designed to prevent pediatric obesity and 2) using an intergenerational approach that targets gestational weight gain to ultimately improve maternal/infant health and impact the etiology of obesity at a critical time in the life cycle. She has developed clinical and community partnerships including the American Academy of Pediatrics, The Pennsylvania Women, Infants, and Children Program, and Head Start in an effort to conduct research that will serve as the evidence basis for developing successful interventions to prevent maternal and childhood obesity among high-risk populations in rural Pennsylvania.

Dr. Savage Williams actively publishes peer-reviewed manuscripts, research articles, and abstracts in several journals including: Obesity, Journal of Women’s Health Care, Appetite, BMC Pediatrics, American Journal of Public Health, American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Journal of Physical Activity, Journal of Behavioral Nutrition, and Journal of Adolescent Health. She completed her undergraduate work with a dual major in Nutrition and Dietetics at Mansfield University in Mansfield, PA. She received her Ph.D. in Nutritional Sciences from The Pennsylvania State University, focusing on the patterns and predictors of weight change among women.

Courses Taught

  • Nutrition 532 Childhood Obesity
  • Nutrition 490W Nutrition Seminar
  • Nutrition 456 Community Nutrition
  • Nutrition 297 Healthy Food For All: Bridging the Gap Between Policy and Poverty         
  • Nutrition 251 Introductory Principles of Nutrition
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