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Punam Ohri-Vachaspati

Faculty, DTPHX Campus, Mailcode 3020
Faculty, DTPHX Campus, Mailcode 9020
Senior Sustainability Scientist
Faculty, DTPHX Campus, Mailcode 9020

Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, PhD, RD


  • RD - Case Western Reserve University, OH, 1997
  • PhD - Tufts University, MA, 1994
    Applied Nutrition and Food Policy
  • MS - Tufts University, MA, 1991
    Applied Nutrition and Food Policy
  • MS - Delhi University, 1982
    Food and Nutrition



Current Active Grants and Projects


  •   United States Department of Agriculture; Role: PI (Mentored Grant for Robin DeWeese, PhD Student) Designing a short-form survey instrument to evaluate the healthfulness of corner stores. (2014-15; $39,500)
  •   National Institutes of Health (NICHD-R03); Role Dual PI; Improving Accuracy of Classifying Child Weight Status in Population-Based Studies; (2014-2016; $154,500)                                   
  •    Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Role: Co-I, PI on subcontract from The Food Trust; Evaluating the Health and Economic Impact of the New Jersey Food Access Initiative; (Jan 2014- Dec 2015; $100,000)                       
  • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; Role: PI; Tracking the Impact on Children of Changes In the Food and Physical Activity Environments. (2012-2017; $559,798)                          
  • National Institutes of Health (NICHD-R01); Role:Dual PI; Impact of Environmental Changes on Children's BMI and Behaviors: A Panel Study. (2012-2017; $3,027,486)


  • National Institutes of Health, Common Fund, NIH Director’s Early Independence Award; Role Co-I and Mentor; The Role of Friendship Networks in Weight-Related Behaviors and Outcomes among College Freshmen (2013-2018; $1.89 million)        

Recent Publications

  • Ohri-Vachaspati P, DeLia D, DeWeese R , Crespo N, Todd M, Yedidia M. The Relative Contribution of Layers of the Social Ecological Model to Childhood Obesity.  Public Health Nutrition. In Press
  • Tang X , Ohri-Vachaspati P, Abbott J, Aggarwal R, Tulloch D, Lloyd K, Yedidia M.   Associations between food environment around schools and professionally measured weight status for middle and high school students.  Childhood Obesity. In Press
  • Ohri-Vachaspati P , Isgor Z, Rimkus L, Powell LM, Barker D, Chaoupka F. Child-Directed Marketing Inside and on the Exterior of Fast-Food Restaurants. Am J Prev Med, In Press.
  • Zenk SN, Powell LM, Rimkus L, Isgor Z, Barker D, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Chaloupka F. Relative and absolute availability of healthier food and beverage alternatives differ across communities in the United States. Am J Public Health, 2014 Sep 11:e1-e9. [Epub ahead of print].
  • Rimkus L, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Powell LM, Zenk SN, Quinn CM, Barker DC, Pugach O, Resnick EA, Chaloupka FJ. Development and reliability testing of a fast food restaurant observation form.  Am J Health Promot, 2014 May 12. [Epub ahead of print] .
  • Bertmann FM, Barroso C, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Hampl J, Sell K, Wharton CM. WIC cash value voucher (CVV) use in Arizona: A qualitative exploration of barriers and strategies related to fruit and vegetable purchases. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 2014;46(3):S53–S58.
  • Ohri-Vachaspati P .  Parental perception of the healthfulness of school meals and its association with student behavior. Appetite. 2013 Dec 4;74C:44-47. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2013.10.024.  
  • Echeverria S, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Yedidia M. The influence of parental nativity, neighborhood disadvantage, and the build environment on physical activity behaviors among Latino youth.   J. Immigrant Minority Health, DOI 10.1007/s10903-013-9931-4.
  • DeWeese R , Yedidia M, Tulloch D, Ohri-Vachaspati P. Associations of neighborhood perceptions with active school commuting in low-income cities. Am J Prev Med. 2013;45(4):393–400.
  • Ohri-Vachaspati P , Lloyd K, DeLia D, Yedidia M. A closer examination of the relationship between childhood obesity and the food and physical activity environment. Prev Med. 2013; Sep;57(3):162-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2013.05.009.
  • Mikkelsen BE, Ohri-Vachaspati P. Hunger, overconsumption and youth: Future directions for research in school-based health nutrition strategies. Public Health Nutr. 2013; 16(6):953-955. 
  • Ohri-Vachaspati P , Turner L, Chaloupka F. Elementary school participation in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Team Nutrition program is associated with more healthful school lunches. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2013;45:733-738.
  • Rimkus L, Powell LM, Zenk S, , Han E, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Pugach O, Barker D, Resnick E, Quinn C., Myllylluoma J, Chaloupka FJ.  Development and reliability testing of a food store observation form. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2013.  doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2013.02.005. [Epub ahead of print]. 
  • Kirkpatrick SI, Reedy J, Kahle LL, Harris JL, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Krebs-Smith SM. Fast food menu offerings vary in dietary quality, but are consistently poor. Public Health Nutr. 2013. 15:1-8
Research Interests

Research focus: Public Health Nutrition

  • Social-ecological determinants of obesity
  • Role of environments and policies in influencing consumption behaviors and health outcomes
  • Determinants of food access among disadvantaged populations
  • Aassessment of federal nutrition assistance programs and policies
  • Assessment of food and physical activity environments
  • Study of nutrition interventions in schools and community settings.
Research Activity