Outstanding in Their Field: Sarah-Jeanne Salvy, Ph.D.


Dr. Sarah-Jeanne Salvy is Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and also fills many other roles. Pediatric psychology and social psychology are two of the specialty areas she trained in. She has won a slew of scholarships and awards, and been on the faculty of several universities and the RAND Corporation. Her bio page says:

Dr. Salvy’s work focuses on social determinants of health and obesity, as well as social regulation of behavioral, metabolic, and inflammatory markers of obesity in children, adolescents and adults. Her additional research interests focus on the mechanisms of intergenerational transmission of obesity, and on implementation science in developing scalable, sustainable and cost effective models of obesity prevention implemented in infancy.

Some of Dr. Salvy’s recent publications are concerned with youth activities and neighborhood safety; weight-discordant siblings; how the eating habits of children and teens are influenced by their siblings, friends and peers; and the usefulness of home visitation programs in combatting child obesity.

Her additional interests are many, like maternal and social interaction as a factor in obesity prevention. Does training in social skills actually bring about improved interactions? What is the relative effectiveness of treating whole families, rather than the identified patient? What exactly should a health support network consist of, and how can professionals facilitate the building of a network among low-income mothers?

What genetically-related obesity enablers exist in specific ethnic populations — such as liver fat among Hispanic children — and what can be done about them? Dr. Salvy is also interested in what sugar-sweetened beverages, and even seemingly benign fruit juices, might be doing to kids.

Dr. Salvy’s bio page mentions a University of Alabama at Birmingham program reminiscent, in its eclecticism, of Vanderbilt University’s Medicine, Health and Society program. The Obesity Health Disparities Research Center (OHDRC) is described thusly:

The overall goal of this center is to reduce the disparities in obesity between African Americans and Whites and among low-income mothers, thereby reducing related health disparities in prevalent chronic diseases. To achieve this, we support transdisciplinary, multi-level, multi-domain research on obesity-related health disparities to understand the complex contributors to obesity and how they vary at critical periods across the life course.

In November the Center received a grant of $7 million from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities. This will enable researchers to use the state of Alabama as a research subject, and investigate “the complex contributors and interactions among biological, behavioral and social factors related to obesity.”

One of the research projects underway is led by Dr. Salvy, along with Gareth Dutton, Ph.D. According to its description,

The study will examine whether a simple targeted in-home intervention that focuses on developing good habits can improve weight outcomes and obesity risk among mothers and children.

The astute Childhood Obesity News reader will have noticed two previous posts with similar titles, one about Alaina Vidmar, M.D., and another about Claudia Borzutzky, M.D. The similarity is intentional, because they “go together.” Along with Dr. Salvy, who is psychological consultant, the others are also part of Dr. Pretlow’s current major project, the upcoming multi-center randomized controlled trial of W8Loss2Go, scheduled to start in 2019 and continue for three years.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Sarah-Jeanne Salvy, PhD,” UAB.edu, undated
Source: “UAB establishes Obesity Health Disparities Research Center,” UAB.edu, 11/08/17
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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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