Laura Bellows
Laura Bellows
Associate Professor
Division of Nutritional Sciences


Dr. Bellows is an Associate Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences. In 2021 she joined the faculty at Cornell after spending 20 years at Colorado State University. Her research is focused on the development of eating habits and physical activity patterns in early childhood; interventions in the early care setting; and the influence of parental behaviors and the home environment on the development of these behaviors.  Much of her work is focused on health disparate populations, including those with limited resources, who are Latino, and living in rural communities. Additionally, Dr. Bellows has worked with an interdisciplinary food systems team contributing expertise in diet quality, food security, the food environment and rural communities.  Her work has received funding from USDA, NIH, and community foundations.  In 2011, Dr. Bellows was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) by President Barack Obama.  In 2019, she received the Society of Nutrition Education and Behavior’s Mid-Career Award.  She serves as an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity and co-chair of the Research Division for the Society of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Broadly, my research examines the impact of community-based interventions on public health outcomes. Specifically, my work focuses on the development of eating habits and physical activity patterns in early childhood audiences. To date my work has utilized innovative approaches in the development, implementation, and evaluation of interventions aimed at preventing childhood obesity in preschool settings and the home environment. I am committed to improving health outcomes through community-informed interventions by promoting health equity amongst at-risk audiences - those with limited resources, who are Hispanic, living in rural settings, and with limited health literacy.

My research goals are to continue to explore how modifiable behaviors and environments impact child and caregiver behaviors related to nutrition, physical activity, and healthy growth. This goal is guided by a philosophy which espouses the close connection between behavior and health outcomes and a commitment to influencing behaviors in early childhood and at-risk populations, particularly those which relate to childhood obesity.

While my primary research activities have focused on early childhood audiences and settings, I have expanded my work recently to examine: children’s menus in the restaurant setting; parent child interactions related to active play, and the relationship of school meal participation and the quality of home food acquisitions. Along with my early childhood work, these efforts encompass a mix of four core areas that drive my research program: behavior change, community-based interventions, systems thinking and health equities.

NS 1400: Introduction to Human Biology, Health and Society

NS 4500: Public Health Nutrition

Below are select publications from the last 3 years.  For a full list of my publications, please visit my Google Scholar page.

 Swindle, T.S., Poosala, A.B., Zeng, N.*, Borsheim, E., Andres, A., Bellows, L.L. (In Press). Digital Intervention Strategies for Increasing Physical Activity Among Preschoolers: A Systematic Review. Journal of Medical Internet Research.

Bellows, L.L., Mena, N.Z*., Reznar, M.M., Taylor, C.A., Sigman-Grant, M. (In Press). Strengthening Nutrition Education and Behavior Research for Academicians and Practitioners: A Perspective. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior.

Ferrante, M.J.*, Johnson, S.L., Miller, J., Bellows, L.L. (In Press). Switching up Sides: Using Choice Architecture to Alter Children’s Menus in Restaurants. Appetite.

Barrett, K.J., Hibbs-Shipp, S.K.*, Hobbs, S., Boles, R.E., Johnson, S.L., Bellows, L.L. (2021). Validation of a Home Food Environment Instrument Assessing Household Food Patterning and Quality. Nutrients, 13, 3930. 10.3390/nu13113930

Mena, N.Z.*, Johnson, S.L., Ferrante, M.J.*, Hobbs, S.J.*, Zeng, N.*, Bellows, L.L. (2021). The SPORKS for Kids: Integrating Movement into Nutrition Education. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 53(10), 903-906.

Agard, R.*, Zeng, N.*, McCloskey, M., Johnson, S. L., & Bellows, L.L.  (2021).  Understanding Parent Perceptions related to Physical Activity and Motor Skill Development in Preschool Children.  International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(17), 9196.

Ferrante, M.J.*, Mohr, G., Miller, J., Johnson, S.L., & Bellows, L.L. (2021). Examining parent preferences for the use of behavioral economic strategies on children’s menus in restaurants. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 121(8), 1515-1527.e2.

Thompson, D.A., Bekelman, T.A., Ferrante, M.J.*, McCloskey, M.L., Johnson, S.L., Bellows, L.L. (2021).  Picture perfect – how attaining the ideal meal isn’t so easy for parents of young children.  Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 3(4), 290-298.

Bellows, L.L., Hambright, A.*, Ferrante, M.J.*, Hobbs, S.*, & Johnson, S.L. (2021). Super Tasters and Mighty Movers: A Booster Program for Sustained Behavior Change in Early Elementary School. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 53(1),84-86.

Ferrante, M.J.*, Moding, K.J., Bellows, L.L., Bakke, A.J., Hayes, J.E., & Johnson, S.L. (2021). Examining front-of-package product names and ingredient lists of infant and toddler foods containing vegetables.  Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 53(2), 96-102.  

Elliott, S., McCloskey, M., Johnson, S.L., Mena, N.Z.*, Swindle, T.S., Bellows, L.L. (2021). Food Photography as a Tool to Assess Type, Quantity, and Quality of Foods in Parent Packed Lunches for Preschoolers. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 53(2), 164-173.  

Swindle, T., Zhang, D., Johnson, S.L., Whiteside-Mansell, L., Curran, G., Martin, J., Selig, J., Bellows, L. (2021). A mixed-methods protocol for identifying successful sustainability strategies for nutrition and physical activity interventions in childcare. Implementation Science Communications,2,8.

McCloskey, M.L., Kesterson, H.*, Mena, N.Z.*, Dellaport, J., Bellows, L.L. (2020). Farm to Early Care and Education Programming: A Descriptive Study of Challenges and Opportunities to Promote Healthful Foods to Young Children. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(18), 6857.

Moding, K.J., Bellows, L.L., Grimm, K.J., Johnson, S.L. (2020). A Longitudinal Examination of the Role of Sensory Exploratory Behaviors in Young Children’s Acceptance of New Foods. Physiology and Behavior, 218(112821).

Moding, K.J, Ferrante, M.J.*, Bellows, L.L., Bakke, A.J., Hayes, J.E., Johnson, S.L. (2019). Nutritional Content and Ingredients of Commercial Infant and Toddler Food Pouches Compared to Other Packages Available in the United States. Nutrition Today, 54(6):305-312.

Bekelman, T., Bellows, L.L., McCloskey, M.L., Martin, C.K., Johnson, S.L. (2019). Assessing Dinner Meals Offered at Home among Low-Income Preschoolers with Remote Food Photography Method. Pediatric Obesity, 14(11):e12558.

Johnson, S.L., Ryan, S., Kroehl, M., Moding, K.J., Boles, R.E., Bellows, L.L. (2019). A Longitudinal Intervention to Improve Young Children’s Liking and Consumption of New Foods: Findings from The Colorado LEAP Study. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 16:49.

McCloskey, M., Johnson, S.L., Bekelman, T.A., Martin, C.K., Bellows, L.L. (2019). Beyond Nutrient Intake: Use of Digital Food Photography Methodology to Examine Family Dinnertime. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 51(5):547−555.

Bellows, L.L., Boles, R.E., Hibbs-Shipp, S.K.*, Burdell, A.*, Johnson, S.L. (2019). Checklist to Capture Food, Physical Activity and Sedentary Devices in the Home Environment: The Home Inventory Describing Eating and Activity (Home-IDEA2). Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 51(5):589−597. 

Zeng, N.*, Johnson, S.L., Boles, R.E., Bellows, L.L. (2019). Social Ecological Correlates of Fundamental Movement Skills in Young Children.  Journal of Sport and Health Science, 8(2), 122-129.  

Hibbs-Shipp, S.K.*, Boles, R.E., Johnson, S.L., McCloskey, M., Hobbs, S.*, Bellows, L.L. (2019). Development of a Quality Score for the Home Food Environment using the Home-IDEA2 and the Healthy Eating Index-2010. Nutrients, 11, 372; doi:10.3390/nu11020372

Ferrante, M.J.*, Johnson, S.L., Miller, J., Moding, K.J., & Bellows, L.L. (2019). Does a Vegetable-First, Optimal Default Strategy Improve Children’s Vegetable Intake? A Restaurant-Based Study. Food Quality and Preference, 74:112-117. doi: 10.1016/j.foodqual.2019.01.009

Boles, R.E., Burdell, A.*, Johnson, S.L., Davies, P.L., Gavin, W.J., Bellows, L.L.  (2019). Home Food Availability Predicts Food Consumption in Young Children.  Appetite, 134, 135-141.

Bekelman, T.A., Bellows, L.L., Clark, L., Thompson, D.A., Kemper, G.*, McCloskey, M., Johnson, S.L. (2019). An ecocultural perspective on eating-related routines among low-income families with preschool-aged children. Qualitative Health Research, 29(9):1345-1357. doi: 10.1177/1049732318814540.

McCloskey M., Bekelman T.A., Thompson D.A., Chamberlin, B., Clark, L., Johnson S.L., Bellows L.L. (2018). Mobile Device Use among Rural, Low-Income Families and the Feasibility of an App to Encourage Preschooler’s Physical Activity: A Qualitative Study.  Journal of Medical Internet Research: Pediatrics and Parenting, 1(2):e10858. 

Johnson, S.L., Moding, K.J., Maloney, K.*, Bellows, L.L.  (2018). Development of the Trying New Foods Scale: a preschooler self-assessment of willingness to try new foods. Appetite, 128, 21-31.

Bellows, L.L., McCloskey, M., Clark, L., Thompson, D.A., Bekelman, T.A., Chamberlin, B., Johnson, S.L. (2018). HEROs (HEalthy EnviROnments study):   Design of a Mixed Methods Formative Research Phase for an Ecocultural Intervention to Promote Healthy Eating and Activity Behaviors in Rural Families with Preschoolers. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 50(7),736-745.

Moding, K.J, Ferrante, M.J.*, Bellows, L.L., Bakke, A.J., Hayes, J.E., Johnson, S.L. (2018). Variety and content of commercial infant and toddler vegetable products manufactured and sold in the United States. Am J Clin Nutr, 107:576–583.

McCloskey, M., Johnson, S.L., Benz, C., Thompson, D.A., Chamberlin, B., Clark, L., Bellows, L.L.  (2018). Parent Perceptions of Mobile Device Use among Preschool-Aged Children in Rural Head Start Centers. J Nutr Educ Behav, 50(1), 83-89.  http://doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2017.03.006   


2007, Ph.D., Community Nutrition, Colorado State University

1999, M.P.H. , Human Nutrition, University of Michigan

1997, B.S., Exercise Science & Health Promotion, Miami University

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