UTH

Shreela V. Sharma, PhD, RD, LD

Photo of Shreela V. Sharma

Professor, Epidemiology, Human Genetics & Environmental Sciences
Co-Director, Dietetic Internship Program
shreela.v.sharma@uth.tmc.edu

Dr. Shreela Sharma is Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Texas, School of Public Health in Houston, TX. Dr. Sharma is a behavioral epidemiologist with specific interest in food insecurity, nutritional epidemiology and diet-related chronic diseases in vulnerable, underserved populations and has a robust, federally-funded research program in this area. Dr. Sharma has led several different studies to develop and evaluate the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) program, including CATCH Early Childhood proven to improve obesity prevention among at-risk preschool age children, and the NIH-funded CATCH Healthy Smiles for oral health promotion to prevent dental caries among elementary age children.

More recently, Dr. Sharma is engaged in several COVID-19 related projects including a Texas state-wide COVID-19 Symptom Tracking initiative, conducting rapid analysis of COVID-19 data for the Texas Medical Center, and the local health departments, developing resources such as www.texaspandemic.org, an interactive COVID-19 dashboard providing real-time assessment of the spread of COVID-19 in Texas, assessing the impact of COVID-19 and the related financial crisis on employment, food security, and other social needs among vulnerable populations in Texas, and providing recommendations for public health decision-making. As part of these efforts, Dr. Sharma is co-investigator for the NIH-funded RADx project to increased uptake of COVID-19 testing in high-risk Texas communities.

Dr. Sharma is committed to serving the community; she is co-founder and principal investigator in the evaluation of Brighter Bites, a nationwide non-profit dedicated to providing fresh produce and nutrition education to low-income children and their families. She serves on the Board of Directors for the University of Houston Friends of Women’s and Gender Studies Program. On behalf of UTHealth, Dr. Sharma co-leads the Greater Houston Coalition on Social Determinants of Health, a Harris-county wide effort focused on mitigating food insecurity and other social determinants of health among its residents. She has a PhD in Epidemiology with a minor in biostatistics, and is a registered dietitian in the state of Texas.

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Current Projects

Brighter Bites

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This project is a collaborative effort to impact eating behavior among predominantly low-income families by introducing them to a routine distribution of fresh produce and corresponding education, ultimately to curb the childhood obesity epidemic.

ENRICH (Encouraging Nurturing Responsiveness to Improve Child Health)

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ENRICH stands for Encouraging Nurturing Responsiveness to Improve Child Health. This research project works to help parents establish healthy eating, activity, bedtime, and screen time routines.

CATCH Healthy Smiles

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CATCH Healthy Smiles teaches students why toothbrushing, flossing, dentist visits, and healthy food and drink choice are important to oral health. Students will learn and practice the skills necessary to maintain healthy smiles.

CATCH (Coordinated Approach To Child Health)

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CATCH is a research-based program designed to guide schools, families and children in healthy eating and physical activity.

HEAL (Healthy Eating Active Living)

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This project is a clinic-community based intervention to implement an early life-cycle approach to obesity prevention among pregnant women and women with infants from low-income families.

Recent Publications

Measures of Physical Activity and Body Mass Index in Hospital Workers: A Multisite Cross-Sectional Study.

(John, J., Swartz, M. D., Hoelscher, D., Huber, C., & Sharma, S. (2019). Journal of occupational and environmental medicine.)

The Nourish Program: An innovative model for cooking, gardening and clinical care skill enhancement for dietetics students.

(McWhorter JW*, Raber M, Sharma SV, Moore LS, Hoelscher DM. J Academy Nutrition Dietetics. 2019; 119(2):199-201.)

Maternal Lactase Polymorphism Is Associated with Neural Tube Defects in Offspring in the National Birth Defects Prevention Study.

(Hoang, Thanh T., Yunping Lei, Laura E. Mitchell, Shreela V. Sharma, Michael D. Swartz, D. Kim Waller, Richard H. Finnell et al. The Journal of nutrition 149, no. 2 (2019): 295-303.)

Interventions targeting diet quality of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants: A scoping review

Verghese, Anila, Margaret Raber, and Shreela Sharma. Preventive medicine (2018).

The Nourish Program: An innovative model for cooking, gardening and clinical care skill enhancement for dietetics students

(McWhorter JW, Raber M, Sharma SV, Moore LS, Hoelscher DM; J Academy Nutr Dietetics; 2018)

Recent News

Culinary Medicine Education Program Shows Positive Outcomes for Low-Income Patients with Diabetes

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A culinary medicine curriculum had a positive impact on certain biometric and diet-related behavioral and psychosocial outcomes among low-income, food-insecure patients with type 2 diabetes participating in a clinic-led food prescription program, according to researchers with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth Houston).

Lost fitness opportunities mark another pandemic hit for Latinos

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Shreela Sharma, PhD, RDN, was quoted in a Cleveland.com story about the lost fitness opportunities Latinos are facing as a result of the pandemic.

How to weigh coronavirus risks this holiday season

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Shreela Sharma, PhD, RDN, answered a question for The Washington Post about whether communal bowls of dip can again grace potluck tables this holiday season.

Brighter Bites Reveals Results of Its 2020 Voucher Program

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Fresh produce is a cornerstone of our industry, and the importance it has in our everyday lives is immense, both from a trade perspective and as consumers ourselves.

‘COVID 2021 Is Not COVID 2019. It’s Far More Transmissible,’ Says President Of ACCESS Health International

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Dr. Shreela Sharma answered COVID-19 vaccine questions for Houston Public Media’s Town Square listeners in an effort to quell vaccine hesitancy as cases surge among unvaccinated populations. Her comments begin at the 35:30 mark.

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