Director of the Centers for Epidemiology and Environmental Health, Chair of Epidemiology, Professor of Epidemiology, Professor of Pediatrics

Overview

I am public health researcher specializing in nutritional, pediatric, and psychiatric epidemiology.  Most of my research focuses on determining the optimal classification for eating disorders and identifying the modifiable causes, correlates, consequences, and course of overweight and eating disorders among children, adolescents, and adult women.  

Much of my current research uses data from the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS), a prospective cohort study of youth I helped to established in 1996 to assess the predictors of dietary intake, activity, and weight gain and is still ongoing in 2016, with a younger cohort, GUTS II, established in 2004. My early research on eating disorders focused on identifying the personal, peer, family, and media influences on starting to binge eating, purge, or develop an eating disorder. 

During the past decade I have researched how eating disorders and obesity should be best classified. I used data from GUTS and the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a birth cohort in the United Kingdom, to identify optimal classifications for eating disorders. Our findings were used by the working group who revised the DSM eating disorder diagnostic criteria in 2013. Future revisions will hopefully also address gender differences in presentation, course, and risk.  The latter is highlighted in our paper that was  published in JAMA Pediatrics, which is the first large study to shows the distribution of a range of eating disorders in males and how they relate to the development of adverse outcomes.  I used the Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery (LABS)  study to identify obesity subtypes. We found that even among adults with severe obesity, there were four distinct subtypes. Future research will examine if developing tailored treatments improves outcomes for patients with obesity.

In addition to the studies on eating disorders and obesity, I am examining risk factors for developing sports injuries. We have examined risk factors for stress factor and are now focusing on ACL tears. Future research will examine the impact of pubertal timing on injury risk. 

The other area of my research is related to migraine, which is common among women and can be debilitating. We have found that the younger a girls is when she hits menarche, the higher her risk is of developing migraine. We are currently seeking funding to grow our program to examine a range of possible risk factors for developing migraine.

Brown Affiliations

Research Areas