Q&A with Dr. Alison Tovar

Dr. Alison Tovar shares her research interests and the experiences that have shaped her career.

What are your current research interests?
iet-related diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers are associated with most of the morbidity, mortality, and health care spending nationally. My current research interests are to understand factors that shape eating behaviors early in life among diverse, underrepresented populations and develop community-based interventions among these populations to shape eating behaviors early in life in order to prevent diet-related diseases.

How did you get interested in that research area?
I always loved food growing up but became interested in nutrition at the age of 19, when I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and recognized the important role that food plays in fueling our bodies. After graduating from college, I became a research assistant in the pediatrics unit at Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston and quickly realized I loved doing research with families, but it also became clear that children were developing chronic diseases earlier in life, many of which were preventable, because of the childhood obesity epidemic. I wanted to be part of the solution and contribute towards the prevention of chronic diseases early in life.

What are 1-2 important take-home points about your work?
Both caregivers within the home and childcare setting play an important role in shaping children’s eating behaviors. Interventions that are community informed, culturally appropriate and engage caregivers within convenient settings are feasible and may be effective in modifying children’s eating.

What are a couple of your favorite things to do when you’re not working?
I love to do yoga, meditate, dance, hike, and spend time with my two kids and husband.