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Maternal & Pediatric Obesity

Our research focuses on the genetic, environmental, social and behavioral contributors to obesity.

We are re-engineering care to improve screening, tailoring preventive counseling and using systems design to direct families to multi-disciplinary, treatment programs when indicated. We are training primary care providers and support staff to use motivational interviewing skills, utilizing tele-health, apps and electronic health records, and coordinating care between clinics and community agencies and schools to help families identify and act on solutions that make healthy, active choices easier.

Contact us

Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, RD

Associate Director, Maternal and Pediatric Research
Obesity Institute

The goals of our research include:

  • Intergenerational prevention of obesity and related chronic diseases for families 
  • Integrated framework for childhood obesity prevention and treatment across spheres of influence
  • Multi-level interventions that address biological, behavioral, environmental, economic, and policy factors
  • Implementation and dissemination research
  • Pragmatic trials and longitudinal studies
  • Patient-centered clinical decision support
  • Behavioral and environmental correlates of obesity, adiposity, fitness and metabolic-related diseases

Geisinger collaborators:
  • Environmental Health Institute: Brian S. Schwartz, MD, MS; Annemarie Hirsch, PhD, MPH
  • Biomedical and Translational Informatics Institute: Yuri Iris Hu, PhD; Sarah Pendergrass, PhD; Anne Justice, PhD
  • Genomics Institute: Alanna Rahm, PhD
  • Innovations: Rebecca Stametz, DEd, MPH
  • Pediatrics: William J. Cochran, MD; Jennifer Franceschelli-Hosterman, DO
  • Pediatric Psychology: Sean O’Dell, PhD
  • Women’s Health, Maternal and Fetal Medicine: A. Dhanya Mackeen, MD, MPH

Current studies:


WEE Baby Care Study

The goal of the pragmatic trial is to build and evaluate a Chronic Care Model for delivering consistent personalized messages to coordinate care across multiple settings- health care clinics and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) clinics- to support mothers and children and their related health outcomes.  Our solution-oriented approach aims to coordinate care to optimize parenting education for the primary prevention of early pediatric obesity. 

Additional study information

Full Study Name: Evaluating Coordination of Care between Pediatricians and WIC Nutritionists: Early Obesity Prevention for WIC Mothers and Children

Funding Support: Health Resources & Services Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services

Co-Primary Investigators: Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, RD; Jennifer Savage Williams, PhD, Penn State University

Co-Investigators: Samantha Kling, PhD, RDN; Jennifer Franceschelli-Hosterman, DO; William J. Cochran, MD; Ian Paul, MD, MS; Sandy Hassink, MD


  • Bailey-Davis L, Hess LB, Marini M, Mowery J, Lutcher S, Savage JS.  WIC nutritionist perspectives on opportunities and challenges regarding care coordination with primary care providers for early childhood obesity prevention.  Journal of Patient-Centered Research and Reviews. 2016, 3(3):219.
  • Bailey-Davis L, Kling SMR, Cochran WJ, Hassink S, Hess L, Franceschelli-Hosterman J, Lutcher S, Marini M, 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. Full text

early healthy lifestyles


This project integrates an evidence-based behavior and home environment risk assessment into pediatric well child visits for children aged 2- to 9-years of age, as a component of universal prevention screening. The Family Nutrition and Physical Activity (FNPA) risk assessment is collected prior to scheduled visits as patient-reported data and instantly documented in the child’s electronic health record as clinical decision support.  Parents also indicate attitude toward discussion topics to help inform preventive counseling to prevent and reduce childhood obesity. This quality improvement initiative has been implemented as standard of care in pediatric primary care.  Longitudinal analyses are underway to evaluate behavior, environment, and weight outcomes associated with this annual, brief intervention.

Additional study information

Study Name: Pediatric Care Redesign with Evidence-Based Screening, Patient-Centered Education, Negotiated Decision Making, and Health Information Technology to Reverse Childhood Obesity (PREVENT)

Funding Support: Geisinger

Primary Investigator: Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, RD

Co-Investigators: Samantha Kling, PhD; Jennifer Franceschelli-Hosterman, DO; Greg Welk, PhD; Rebecca Stametz, DEd, MPH; Jennifer Savage Williams, PhD; X. Sherry Yan, PhD

grow with WIC

Grow with WIC

The project aims to improve retention of WIC clients until age 5 years in Pennsylvania.  Program enhancements regarding messaging and customer service were informed by clients and incorporated into local clinics.  An observational, case-matched controlled study design is being used to evaluate retention (primary outcome) until age 5 years as sell as participation, awareness, knowledge, satisfaction, barriers and beliefs associated with the WIC Program. 

Study Name: Grow with Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program Improvements

Funding Support: Family Health Council of Central Pennsylvania/PA WIC Program/United States Department of Agriculture

Primary Investigator: Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, RD

Co-Investigator: Samantha Kling, PhD, RDN

pregnant woman holding stomach

Teaching Appropriate Gestational Weight Gain (TAGG)

This project aims to improve obstetrical care by managing gestational weight gain among high risk gravida to decrease maternal and fetal complications and to reduce economic costs associated with excessive gestational weight in women with obesity. A randomized controlled trial is underway to assess the difference in proportion of patients that do not gain above the Institute of Medicine’s Gestational Weight Gain guidelines when exposed to nutrition consultation and regular telephone coaching calls vs. standard of care. Additional outcomes include pregnancy complications, maternal and neonatal intensive care unit admissions as well as psychosocial and behavioral outcomes. 

Study Name: Addressing High Gestational Weight Gain to Improve Patient-Experience, Reduce Intensive Care Unit Admissions, and Lower Costs

Funding Support: Geisinger Health Plan

Co-Primary Investigators: A. Dhanya Mackeen, MD, MPH; Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, RD

Co-Investigators: Michael J. Paglia, MD, PhD; Danielle Symons Downs, PhD; Jennifer Savage Williams, PhD


Early Healthy Lifestyles

This project integrates an evidence-informed behavior and home environment risk assessment into pediatric well child visits for children aged 0-26 months for children with elevated weight for length. Parents complete the brief risk assessment prior to scheduled well child visits and results are instantly recorded in the child’s electronic health record with clinic decision support. Analyses are underway to evaluate behavior, environment, and weight outcomes associated with this annual, brief intervention. The original risk assessment fielded in 2013-2015 was updated with evidence-based findings and incorporated into the WEE Baby Care Study since 2016.

Funding Support: Geisinger

Co-Primary Investigators: William J. Cochran, MD; Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, RD

Completed studies:

Obesity Systems Center

Study Name: Dynamics of Childhood Obesity in Pennsylvania from Community to Epigentics 

Funding Support: National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

Co-Primary Investigators: Brian S. Schwartz, MD, MS; Thomas A. Glass, PhD, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Co-Investigators: Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, RD; Annemarie Hirsch, PhD, MPH; Melissa Poulsen, PhD, MPH


  1. Schwartz BS, Bailey-Davis L, Bandeen-Roche K, Hirsch AG, Pollak J, Glass TA.  Attention deficit disorder, stimulant use, and childhood body mass index trajectory. Pediatrics. April 2014;133(4):668-76. PMID: 24639278
  2. Nau C, Schwartz BS, Bandeen-Roche K, Liu A, Pollak J, Hirsch AG, Bailey-Davis L, Glass TA. Community socioeconomic deprivation and obesity trajectories in children using electronic health records. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2015 Jan;23(1):207-12. PMID: 25324223
  3. Nau C, Ellis H, Haung H, Schwartz BS, Hirsch A, Bailey-Davis L, Kress AM, Pollak J. Glass TA. Exploring the forest instead of the trees: An innovative method for defining obesogenic and obesoprotective environments. Health & Place. 2015 Sep 18;35:136-146. PMID: 26398219
  4. Schwartz BS, Pollak J, Bailey-Davis L, Hirsch AG, Cosgrove SE, Nau C, Kress AM, Glass TA, Bandeen-Roche K.  Antibiotic use and childhood body mass index trajectory. International Journal of Obesity. 21 October 2015. PMID: 26486756.
  5. Schwartz BS, Glass TA, Pollak J, Hirsch AG, Bailey-Davis L, Bandeen-Roche K. Depression, its co-morbidities and treatment, and childhood body mass index trajectories. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 Dec; 24(12):2585-2592. doi: 10.1002/oby.21627. PMID: 27804225.
  6. Poulsen MN, Pollak J, Bailey-Davis L, Hirsch AG, Glass TA, Schwartz BS. Prenatal and childhood antibiotic use and child body mass index at age three years. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2017 Feb;25(2):438-444. doi: 10.1002/oby.21719. PMID: 28124504.
  7. Bailey-Davis L, Poulsen M, Pollak J, Hirsch AG, Glass TA, Schwartz BS. Home food rules in relation to youth eating behaviors, body mass index, waist circumference, and percent body fat. J Adolesc Health. 2017 Mar 31;60(3):270-6.
  8. Knapp EA, Nau C, Brandau S, DeWalle J, Hirsch AG, Bailey-Davis L, Schwartz BS, Glass TA. Community Audit of Social, Civil, and Activity Domains in Diverse Environments (CASCADDE): A new community audit methodology for direct observation of obesity-related environmental features. Am J Prev Med. 2017 Apr;52(4):530-540. PMID:28209283
  9. Dunstan J, Bressler JP, Moran TH, Pollak J, Hirsch AG, Bailey-Davis L, Glass TA, Schwartz BS. Associations of LEP, CRH, ICAM-1 and LINE-1 methylation, measured in saliva with waist circumference, body mass index, and percent body fat in mid-childhood. Clin Epigenetics. 2017 Mar 29;9:29. PMID:28360946.


Evaluating the Impact of State-wide BMI Screening Initiative in Elementary Schools

Funding Support: National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Co-Primary Investigators: Gregory Welk, PhD, Iowa State University; Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, RD


  1. Peyer KL, Welk G, Bailey-Davis L, Yang S, Kim JK. Factors Associated with Parent Concern for Child Weight and Parenting Behaviors. Childhood Obesity. 2015 Jun; 11(3):269-74. PMID: 25734502
  2. Peyer K, Welk G, Bailey-Davis L, Chen S.  County health indicators and obesity rates in Pennsylvania. BMC Public Health.  2016 May 14;16(1):404. PMID: 27180170
  3. Bailey-Davis L, Peyer KL, Fang Y, Kim JK, Welk GJ. Effects of enhancing school-based body mass index screening reports with parent education on report utility and parental intent to modify obesity risk factors. Child Obes. 2017 Apr;13(2):164-171. doi: 10.1089/chi.2016.0177. PMID:2809904.


Community Based Approaches to Prevent and Treat Diabetes

Funding Support: United States Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Primary Investigator: Gary Foster, PhD, Temple University

Co-Investigator: Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, RD


  1. Bailey-Davis L, Virus A, McCoy TA, Wojtanowski A, Vander Veur SS, Foster GD.  Middle school student and parent perceptions of government-sponsored free school breakfast and consumption: A qualitative inquiry in an urban setting. J Acad Nutr Diet; 2013 Feb; 113; 251-257. PMID: 23351628 
  2. Lawman HG, Polonsky HM, Vander Veur S, Abel M, Sherman S, Bauer KW, Sanders T, Fisher JO, Bailey-Davis L, Ng J, Van Wye G, Foster GD. Breakfast patterns among low-income, ethnically-diverse grade school children in an urban area. BMC Public Health, June 2014; 14(1):604. PMID: 24928474 

Enhancing Consumer Orientation of Farm to School Program

Funding Support: United States Department of Agriculture/National Institute of Food and Agriculture

Primary Investigator: Amit Sharma, PhD, Penn State University

Co-Investigator: Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, RD


  1. Sharma A, Moon J, Bailey-Davis L, Conklin M. Food choices and service evaluation under time constraints: the school lunch environment. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management. 2017 Oct 30:00-00.

Assessment of Food Sold in Competition to the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs in Pennsylvania High Schools

Funding Support: Cooperative Agreement Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity

Primary Investigator: Lisa Bailey-Davis, DEd, RD


  1. Probart C, McDonnell E, Weirich J, Hartman T, Bailey-Davis L, Prabhakher V. Competitive foods available in Pennsylvania public high schools. J Am Diet Assoc; 2005 Aug; 105(8):1243-9. PMID: 16182640
  2. Probart C, McDonnell E, Weirich J, Hartman T, Bailey-Davis L.  School competitive food policies: perceptions of Pennsylvania public high school foodservice directors and principals. J Am Diet Assoc; 2006 Feb; 106(2):271-6. PMID: 16442877
  3. Probart C, McDonnell E, Weirich J, Hartman T, Bailey-Davis L.  Factors associated with the offering and sale of competitive foods and school lunch participation. J Am Diet Assoc; 2006; 106(2):242-7. PMID: 16442872
  4. Probart C, McDonnell E, Bailey-Davis L, Weirich JE. Existence and predictors of soft drink advertisements in Pennsylvania high schools.  J Am Diet Assoc; 2006 Dec; 106 (12):2052-56. PMID: 17126637