Nalini Ranjit, PhD

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Associate Professor, Health Promotion & Behavioral Sciences

Dr. Ranjit’s research interests span two broad areas: social and behavioral epidemiology, and design and evaluation of behavioral interventions. Her work in social and behavioral epidemiology includes several highly cited studies examining environmental, socioeconomic, racial /ethnic, psychosocial factors and behavioral factors associated with disparities in a variety of population health outcomes, including chronic disease biomarkers, health risk behaviors, obesity, and mortality. Her second broad area of research, the design and evaluation of behavioral interventions, is focused on detailed evaluation of effectiveness of interventions, by decomposing the effects of multi-component interventions, and identifying why some subpopulations and some behavioral outcomes appear especially susceptible to the effect of particular interventions. In both areas of research, her work is informed by an explicit focus on quantitative methodologies and an examination of mechanisms underlying social disparities in health.

Currently, she is PI of the SNAP-Ed Evaluation project, a project to implement effective evaluation practices across all SNAP-Ed implementing Agencies in Texas, and Co-PI of “A Prescription for Healthy Living”, a project to evaluate effectiveness of a currently ongoing Produce Prescription program conducted by the Houston Food Bank. Other projects include a state-wide school surveillance project of obesity and its behavioral correlates; an evaluation of a sexual education program used for high school students; and a healthy food retail initiative.   Dr. Ranjit has also served as Director of the Data Core, an initiative designed to support and maintain a high level of excellence and productivity in research activity at the Center. In this capacity, she provides research guidance to doctoral and post-doctoral students in Austin. She also regularly teaches doctoral level courses on Research Design and Analysis, and Program Evaluation.

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Current Projects

Texas School Physical Activity and Nutrition Survey (TX SPAN)

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The Texas SPAN survey was established to track the prevalence of overweight and obese school-aged children in Texas.

Texas SNAP-Ed Evaluation

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Texas SNAP-Ed Evaluation, is a two-year project to evaluate, on a statewide basis, the effectiveness of SNAP-Ed nutrition education and obesity prevention programming activities delivered by Implementing Agencies throughout the state of Texas.

Texas Childhood Obesity Prevention Policy Evaluation (T-COPPE)

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This project is a collaborative effort that will study the impact of two recent policies: the Safe Routes to School program and an important rule revision to the federal food allocation package administered by the Texas Women, Infants and Children program.


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Food Retail: Evaluating Strategies for a Healthy Austin (FRESH-AUSTIN) aims to further evaluation of the City of Austin's Healthy Food Access Initiative, and increase understanding of the complexities within a community food system.

Recent Publications

Efficacy of various prescribed vitamin D supplementation regimens on 25-hydroxyvitamin D serum levels in long-term care.

Robbins, R. N., Serra, M., Ranjit, N., Hoelscher, D. M., Sweitzer, S. J., & Briley, M. E. (2022). Public health nutrition, 25(1), 82–89.

Intention to Lose Weight and Use of Electronic Cigarettes Among Adolescents.

(Sanchez, R., Ranjit, N., Kelder, S. H., Gill, M., & Hoelscher, D. M. (2021). Preventive Medicine Reports, 101406.)

Design and evaluation of a coalition-led obesity initiative to promote healthy eating and physical activity in low-income, ethnically diverse communities: the Go! Austin/Vamos! Austin initiative

van den Berg, A., Nielsen, A., Akhavan, N., Llanes Pulido, C., Basu, S., et al. (2019). Archives of Public Health, 77(25).

Perceived Parental and Peer Social Support Is Associated With Healthier Diets in Adolescents.

Haidar, A., Ranjit, N., Saxton, D., & Hoelscher, D. M. (2019). Journal of nutrition education and behavior, 51(1), 23–31.

Effect of media use on adolescent body weight.

Cha, E. M., Hoelscher, D. M., Ranjit, N., Chen, B., Gabriel, K. P., et al. (2018). Preventing chronic disease, 15.

Association between parent and child weight status among private school children in Delhi, India

Greene-Cramer, B., Harrell, M. B., Hoelscher, D. M., Sharma, S., Ranjit, N., et al. (2018). Global health promotion, 25(2), 67–74.

Designing Place-Based interventions for Sustainability and Replicability: the Case of Go! Austin/Vamos! Austin

Hussaini, A., Pulido, C. L., Basu, S., & Ranjit, N. (2018). Frontiers in public health, 6, 88.

Perceived weight and bullying victimization in boys and girls

Carey, F. R., Wilkinson, A. V., Ranjit, N., Mandell, D., & Hoelscher, D. M. (2018). The Journal of school health, 88(3), 217–226.

The Effect of Prenatal Maternal Cigarette Smoking on Children's BMI Z-Score With SGA as a Mediator

Salahuddin, M., Pérez, A., Ranjit, N., Hoelscher, D. M., & Kelder, S. H. (2018). International journal of obesity (2005), 42(5), 1008–1018.

Parent packs, child eats: Surprising results of Lunch is in the Bag's efficacy trial

Roberts-Gray, C., Ranjit, N., Sweitzer, S. J., Byrd-Williams, C. E., Romo-Palafox, M. J., et al. (2018). Appetite, 121, 249–262.

Predictors of Severe Obesity in Low-Income, Predominantly Hispanic/Latino Children: The Texas Childhood Obesity Research Demonstration Study

Salahuddin, M., Pérez, A., Ranjit, N., Kelder, S. H., Barlow, S. E., et al. (2017). Preventing Chronic Disease, 14, E141.

Contribution of Beverage Selection to the Dietary Quality of the Packed Lunches Eaten by Preschool-Aged Children

Romo-Palafox, M. J., Ranjit, N., Sweitzer, S. J., Roberts-Gray, C., Byrd-Williams, et al. (2018). Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 118(8), 1417–1424.

Structuring Process Evaluation to Forecast Use and Sustainability of an Intervention: Theory and Data From the Efficacy Trial for Lunch Is in the Bag

Roberts-Gray, C., Sweitzer, S. J., Ranjit, N., Potratz, C., Rood, M., et al. (2017). Health Education & Behavior, 44(4), 559-569.

A Comparison of Sociodemographic Correlates of Cigarette, Alcohol, and Energy Drink Consumption among High School Students in the United States, 2010-2015

Cha, E. M., Ranjit, N., & Hoelscher, D. M. (2017). Journal of Applied Research on Children, 8(2), 1.

The associations of large-for-gestational-age and infant feeding practices with children's body mass index z-score trajectories: the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort

Salahuddin, M., Pérez, A., Ranjit, N., Hoelscher, D. M., & Kelder, S. H. (2017). Clinical obesity, 7(5), 307–315.

Self-reported use of nutrition labels to make food choices is associated with healthier dietary behaviours in adolescents

Haidar, A., Carey, F. R., Ranjit, N., Archer, N., & Hoelscher, D. (2017). Public health nutrition, 20(13), 2329-2339.

Adequacy of Parent-Packed Lunches and Preschooler's Consumption Compared to Dietary Reference Intake Recommendations

Romo-Palafox, M. J., Ranjit, N., Sweitzer, S. J., Roberts-Gray, C., Byrd-Williams, C. E., et al. (2017). Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 36(3), 169-176.

Surveillance Systems to Track and Evaluate Obesity Prevention Efforts

Hoelscher, D. M., Ranjit, N., & Pérez, A. (2017). Annual Review of Public Health, 38, 187-214.

Evaluating a school-based fruit and vegetable co-op in low-income children: a quasi-experimental study

Sharma, S. V., Markham, C., Chow, J., Ranjit, N., Pomeroy, M., et al. (2016). Preventive medicine, 91, 8–17.

Association of Parental Social Support With Energy Balance-Related Behaviors in Low-Income and Ethnically Diverse Children: A Cross-Sectional Study

(Heredia NI, Ranjit N, Warren J, Evans A; BMC Public Health; 2016)

Cardiometabolic Risk Factors among Children and Adolescents with Severe Obesity in the United States, 1999-2012

(Li L, Pérez A, Wu LT, Ranjit N, Brown HS, Kelder SH; Child Obes.; 2016)

Effectiveness of the Lunch Is in the Bag Program on Communication Between the Parent, Child and Child-Care Provider Around Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grain Foods: A Group-Randomized Controlled Trial

(Sharma SV, Rashid T, Ranjit N, Byrd-Williams C, Chuang RJ, Roberts-Gray C, Briley M, Sweitzer S, Hoelscher DM; Preventive Medicine; 2015)

Examining How Adding a Booster to a Behavioral Nutrition Intervention Prompts Parents to Pack More Vegetables and Whole Gains in Their Preschool Children's Sack Lunches

(Sweitzer, SJ, Ranjit, N, Calloway, E, Hoelscher, DM, Fawaz, A, Briley, ME, Roberts-Gray, CR; Behavioral Medicine, 2014)

Exposure to multiple components of a garden-based intervention for middle school students increases fruit and vegetable consumption

(Evans AE, Ranjit N, Rutledge R, Medina J, Jennings R, Smiley A, Stigler MH, Hoelscher DM; Health Promotion Practice, 2012)

Promoting physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption through a community-school partnership: The effects of Marathon Kids on low-income elementary school children in Texas

(Springer AE, Kelder SH, Ranjit N, Hochberg-Garrett H, Chow S, Delk J ; Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 2012)

Unbundling outcomes of a multilevel intervention to increase fruit, vegetables, and whole grains parents pack for their preschool children in sack lunches

(Briley ME, Ranjit N, Hoelscher DM, Sweitzer SJ, Almansour FD, Roberts-Gray CR ;American Journal of Health Education, 2012)

Metropolitan fragmentation and health disparities: Is there a link?

(Hutson MA, Kaplan GA, Ranjit N, Mujahid M; Milbank Quarterly , 2012)

Associations of Physical Fitness and Academic Performance Among Schoolchildren

(Van Dusen DP, Kelder SH, Kohl, HW, Ranjit N, Perry CL; Journal of School Health, 2011)

Are adolescents' perceptions of dietary practices associated with their dietary behaviors?

(Velazquez CE, Pasch KE, Ranjit N, Mirchandani G, Hoelscher DM; Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 2011)

Circadian rhythm of cortisol and neighborhood characteristics in a population-based sample: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis

(Do DP, Diez Roux AV, Hajat A, Auchincloss A, Merkin S, Ranjit N, Shea S, Seeman T ; Health and Place , 2011)

Recent News

Public health experts launch real-time COVID-19 data dashboard with prediction modeling for Texas

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A new COVID-19 tracking tool that can tell Texans what is happening in real time in their own communities and anticipate how one person can infect dozens more was recently launched by The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

Review: Evaluation of the Go! Austin/Vamos! Austin Initiative

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The Go! Austin/Vamos! Austin (GAVA) is a coalition of neighbors and community partners which organizes and mobilizes community efforts in ways that reduce barriers and increase institutional capacity in low-income communities. READ MORE.