Pediatric Obesity

Pediatric Obesity

The purpose of the Pediatric Obesity Section is to support and promote scientific efforts to understand the correlates, causes, and consequences of pediatric obesity and to inform its treatment and prevention.


  • Promote networking and collaboration among TOS Pediatric Obesity researchers and practitioners
  • Promote pediatric obesity clinical practice
  • Increase the national visibility of the pediatric obesity section as a leading resource in research, practice, and advocacy


Join us at the annual Pediatric Obesity Section meeting! Each year during the Obesity Society Annual meeting, the Pediatric Obesity Section has a section meeting. This meeting is open to section members and those interested in joining. During the session, the Bar-Or Award for Excellence in Pediatric Obesity Research is presented and followed by a lecture that highlights excellence in pediatric obesity research. The session provides an excellent opportunity to network with other pediatric obesity researchers.

Bar-Or Award for Excellence in Pediatric Obesity Research

The Bar-Or Award was founded in 2007 by the Pediatric Obesity Section of TOS to recognize significant contributions to basic and applied pediatric obesity research that have resulted in major advances in scientific understanding of etiology, prevention, and treatment of pediatric obesity.

Applications are accepted each year in the spring. 

Past recipients of the Bar-Or Award:

  • 2016 – Dianne Ward, EdD
  • 2015 – David Ludwig, MD, PhD
  • 2014 – Mary Story, PhD
  • 2013 – Jack A. Yanovski, MD, PhD, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, NIH
  • 2012 – Tom Robinson, MD, MPH
  • 2011 – Nancy Butte, PhD
  • 2010 – Leann L. Birch, PhD
  • 2009 – Michael Goran, PhD and Melinda Southern, PhD
  • 2008 – William H Dietz, MD, PhD
  • 2007 – Leonard Epstein, PhD

Member Spotlight


Pediatric Obesity Section Newsletter March 2017

Pediatric Obesity Section Newsletter February 2017

Pediatric Obesity Section Newsletter September 2016

Pediatric Obesity Section Newsletter July 2016

Pediatric Obesity Section Newsletter March 2016

Pediatric Obesity Section Newsletter January 2016

Pediatric Obesity Section Newsletter October 2015

Pediatric Obesity Section Newsletter June 2015

Pediatric Obesity Section Newsletter April 2015


Join the Pediatric Obesity Section

All Section members must be a member of The Obesity Society. 

If you are not a member of The Obesity Society, join today. Be certain to select the Pediatric Obesity Section when completing your profile.

If you are already a member and would like to join the Pediatric Obesity Section please login to your member profile and select the Pediatric Obesity Section. Once you have updated your profile, you will receive all communications pertaining to the Section.

Please contact Shameeka Green,, Volunteer Manager if you have any questions.



Youfa Wang, MD, PhD, MS, FTOS (Chair, 2016-2017)

Ball State University, Muncie, IN

Dr. Wang is John & Janice Fisher Endowed Chair of Wellness; Associate Director, Fisher Institute of Health and Well-being; Director, Systems-Oriented Global Childhood Obesity Intervention Program; and Professor, Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences at College of Health, Ball State University. Before he worked as Professor and Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Environmental Health, and Clinical Professor at Department of Paediatrics in State University of New York at Buffalo. During 2004-2013, he worked as Assistant- and Associate Professor in Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and School of Medicine, and as the Founding Director of the Johns Hopkins Global Center on Childhood Obesity. At present, he is also an Adjunct Professor at Johns Hopkins University, Xi’an University, Fudan University and Peking University in China. He received his PhD at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and his medical training at Beijing Medical University. As an internationally-known expert, he has over 220 publications including about 170 peer-reviewed papers, including some are cited >2000 times. His research interests focus on obesity; nutritional epidemiology; child health; non-communicable chronic diseases; health disparities; global health; systems science methods; BigData and mHealth. As the principal investigator, over the past 14 years, he has secured about $23 million in NIH grants, including multiple R01s and a $16 million NIH U54 center award. He has directed multiple large NIH-funded domestic and international collaboration projects. He has served on numerous national and international expert panels, review committees and leadership positions, including serving on over 20 NIH and CDC grant review committees, as a WHO and United Nations consultant, and as Chair of the Nutrition Epidemiology Section of the American Society for Nutrition. He has played leadership roles in The Obesity Society (TOS) over the past decade, and is a TOS fellow. He has demonstrated passion, devotion and leadership in various leadership positions and has contributed to the field. He is committed to supporting members’ collaboration and career development and to promoting diversity.

Aaron S. Kelly, PhD, FTOS (Chair-Elect, 2016-2017)

University of Minnesota Medical School, Minneapolis, MN

Aaron S. Kelly, Ph.D., F.T.O.S., is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Kelly has been a member of The Obesity Society since 2009. His primary interest is in the field of pediatric obesity medicine with research focusing on the clinical aspects of pediatric severe obesity. His research portfolio includes NIH-funded studies assessing the vascular status of children and adolescents with severe obesity, evaluating vascular outcomes following bariatric surgery in teens, and clinical trials investigating the combination of lifestyle modification and pharmacotherapy in adolescents with severe obesity. As a member of the Pediatric Obesity Section council, Dr. Kelly seeks to increase the membership of the section, foster collaboration among researchers and clinicians, and elevate the reputation and visibility of the section at the national and international levels.

Tanja Kral, PhD (Secretary/Treasurer, 2016-2017)

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Kral is an Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences in the School of Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. The overarching goal of Dr. Kral’s research is the identification of behavioral phenotypes for childhood obesity and evidence-based dietary and behavioral economic strategies that promote healthy eating in at-risk children through personalized behavioral interventions. Her current NIH-funded research examines the impact of short-term appetite and intake regulation on longer-term energy intake control and weight development in a cohort of ethnically diverse boys and girls of different weight status and with different familial predispositions to obesity. Dr. Kral currently also collaborates on the multi-site CDC-funded Study to Explore Early Development (SEED) to assess early life and nutritional risk factors for obesity in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Dr. Kral previously served as a member of the Scientific Review Committee (Clinical Studies Track) of TOS (2009 – 2012) and is currently serving as advisory editor of Appetite and as editorial board member of Nutrition and Diabetes.

Keely Hawkins, PhD (Early Career Representative, 2016-2018)

Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA

I am a postdoctoral fellow on the NIH T-32 training grant at Pennington Biomedical Research Center. My experience includes designing, overseeing, and managing human clinical trials examining nutritional, physical activity, and body weight outcomes in individuals with a wide variety of weight statuses. I also have valuable experience in development and oversight of fMRI paradigm designs in clinic-based interventions to assess neuronal activation patterns in response to food cues. I have recently began collecting data for my T32 project examining changes in neural activation patterns in reward-related areas of the brain to food cues and changes in gut microbiota before and after bariatric surgery. My background in nutritional science, physical activity, and body weight intervention oversight compliments my training in fMRI acquisition of individuals and provides a solid scientific understanding of the problems addressed in this study. I hope to utilize this expertise to extend my line of research to examine changes associated with behavioral weight loss interventions in children and adolescents. My expertise lends itself to my roles of supervising nutritional interventions as well as novel experience for brain activation data collection and analysis.

Marian Tanofsky-Kraff, PhD (Councilor, 2016-2018)

Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD

Marian Tanofsky-Kraff, Ph.D. is Professor in the Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and Researcher in the Section on Growth and Obesity at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, NIH. Prior to receiving her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the Catholic University of America, Dr. Tanofsky-Kraff was a Research Associate at the Yale Center for Eating/Weight Disorders at Yale University. Her research program involves the intersection of obesity and eating disorders in pediatric samples and addresses questions about the risks, protective factors, maintenance, consequences, and prevention of childhood excess weight gain, with a particular focus on disinhibited eating behaviors. Dr. Tanofsky-Kraff has extensive experience in the assessment of aberrant eating in youth, ranging from structured interviewing to laboratory feeding paradigms. She has carried out pediatric interventions aimed at preventing adult obesity and eating disorders in special populations. Dr. Tanofsky-Kraff has published 135 empirical papers/chapters, has received research funding from the NIH and other agencies, and is the recipient of numerous awards. She is a Fellow of The Obesity Society, the Academy of Eating Disorders and is the Past-President of the Eating Disorders Research Society.

Jennifer Savage Williams, PhD (Councilor, 2015-2017)

Pennsylvania State University, Pennsylvania, PA

Dr. Savage Williams is the Interim Director for the Center of Childhood Obesity Research at The Pennsylvania State University and also an Assistant Professor within the Department of Nutritional Sciences. She has conducted and participated in NIH, HRSA & USDA funded research in the area of childhood obesity for over 10 years, with a focus on maternal and child health. Dr. Savage Williams’ research focuses on developing effective prenatal and postnatal behavioral interventions to promote health and well-being across the lifespan. Her current research endeavors focus on 1) building, optimizing, and evaluating multi-faceted interventions delivered in multiple settings (community, health care, and home) that are designed to prevent pediatric obesity and 2) using an intergenerational approach that targets gestational weight gain, to ultimately improve maternal/infant health and impact the etiology of obesity at a critical time in the life cycle. She has developed clinical and community partnerships with the American Academy of Pediatrics, The Pennsylvania Women, Infants, and Children Program, and Head Start, in an effort to conduct research that will serve as the evidence basis for developing successful interventions to prevent maternal and childhood obesity among high-risk populations in rural Pennsylvania.

Alice F. Yan, MD, PhD (Councilor, 2016-2018)

University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI

Alice Yan, MD, PhD is an Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee and the Program Lead of the Community and Behavioral Health Promotion Track of the Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health. As the Principal Investigator, Dr. Yan’s work has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Wisconsin Partnership Program, the American Cancer Society and the Department of Health and Human Services and she has participated in several large scaled NIH funded clinical trials. Trained as a physician in China, Dr. Yan is a proud graduate of University of Maryland School of Public Health. Throughout her academic career, Dr. Yan has concentrated her research on decreasing health disparities and improving the health and well-being of disadvantaged populations. Her current research endeavors focus on obesity prevention and the promotion of lifestyle behaviors, including physical activity and healthy eating: (1) applying a multidisciplinary approach to understanding the interrelationships of social and environment factors on individual risk perceptions and risk behaviors that lead to poor health outcomes (e.g., obesity, type 2 diabetes and breast cancer) and (2) using a community-based participatory research approach (CBPR) to translate evidence-based clinical practical applications in underserved, at-risk populations.

Stephen Cook, MD, MPH, FTOS  (Past Chair, 2016-2017)

University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

Dr Stephen Cook, MD, MPH, is dual trained in pediatric and adult-internal medicine. After completing his residency and a chief resident year in Buffalo NY, he joined the Golisano Children's Hospital at URMC in 2001. He completed an academic pediatric fellowship here, during which time he focused on his research and clinical aspects on nutrition, physical activity, obesity and the metabolic complications that arise. He currently sees patients as part of the general pediatric practice and attending at the Golisano Children’s Hospital at UR Medicine. He has conducted community and practice based research on childhood obesity. These studies have include epidemiologic research, practice improvement strategies, and practice based RCT to address childhood obesity. He also serves as a liaison to the New York State Council on Hunger and Food Policy. He also serves as the Associate Director for the Institute for Healthy Childhood Weight at the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Timothy H. Moran, PhD (Council Liaison 2016-2017)

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD

His laboratory focuses on the controls of eating as they relate to the etiology of obesity and eating disorders. The laboratory uses multiple approaches including cell systems, genetic and dietary models of obesity in rodents, and analyses of feeding behavior in nonhuman primates. Specific projects involve examination of gut/brain in satiety, the role of hypothalamic neuropeptide systems in energy balance, interactions between energy expenditure and food intake and the identification of epigenetic factors that can bias the organism toward diabetes and obesity. His laboratory also studies developmental factors that can contribute to alterations in neural maturation.