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The Friedman School pursues cutting-edge research and education from cell to society, including in molecular nutrition, human metabolism, population studies, clinical trials, nutrition interventions and behavior change, communication, food systems and sustainability, global food insecurity, humanitarian crises, and food economics and policy.
Associate Professor, Jonathan M. Tisch College of Citizenship and Public Service
Associate Professor, Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute
Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion
Sara Folta's research interests focus on public health nutrition, or the utilization of community-based strategies for improving dietary intake, physical activity, and body composition. She has particular expertise in behavioral psychology, communications, and qualitative methods. A major line of Folta's research involves community-based interventions to improve heart health among women. A second area of research includes behavioral strategies to improve health and well-being among older adults, particularly through the development of physical activity interventions. Folta's third line of research involves community-based interventions for obesity prevention among children. These studies, in which theory-based communications strategies were a major component, are notable for the use of the eco-social model in which multiple levels (individual-organization-community-policy) are targeted.
Ph.D., 2005, Nutrition, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University
M.S., 1995, Cell and Molecular Biology, The University of Vermont
B.A., 1988, Biology, Middlebury College
Snack It Up Phase 2 (Principal Investigator)
The purpose of this project build on the Snack It Up strategy of partnering out-of-school-time (OST) programs with regional grocery stores in mutually beneficial partnerships to increase children's access to affordable fruits and vegetables via discounts on produce. In this study, Snack It UP will be implemented with national OST orgs (e.g. sports-based youth development programs) that reach low SES communities at high risk for obesity. Funder: Newman's Own Foundation
Preliminary Investigation of Civic Engagement as a Novel Approach to Behavior Change and Body Weight Improvement in African American Females (Change Clubs for African American Women Study) (Principal Investigator)
The purpose of this pilot study is to test the feasibility of civic engagement as novel approach to behavior change, linking the individual and community levels in a way that is mutually reinforcing and placing the focus, as is culturally appropriate for African American women, on collective health. Funder: Boston Nutrition Obesity Research Center
Heart Health for African American Women: A Multidisciplinary Approach (Co-Principal Investigator)
The purpose of this study is to gain an enhanced understanding from a multidisciplinary perspective of cardiovascular disease risk factors among African American women, who have the highest CVD mortality rates among all U.S. adults. Funder: Tufts University Office of the Provost
The GREEN Study (Co-Investigator)
The goal of this project was to determine whether a multi-channel school-based communication campaign that combines healthy eating and eco-friendly messages will improve the quality of foods that children bring from home more than a healthy eating campaign alone and compared to a control/delayed intervention condition. Funder: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
The LIFE Study (Co-Investigator)
This Phase 3, multicenter randomized controlled trial was designed to compare a moderate-intensity physical activity program to a successful aging health education program in 1,600 sedentary older persons who were followed for an average of 2.7 years. The primary outcome was major mobility disability. Funder: National Institute on Aging
The VIVE Study – Exercise and Nutrition Field Trial (Principal Investigator)
The goal of this project was to develop and evaluate an exercise and nutrition program for older adults in assisted living/senior housing. The program was designed to improve functional status and quality of life in this population. Funder: Nestec S.A., HealthCare Nutrition