Rachel Tabak: Faculty Spotlight

Rachel Tabak’s research is focused on helping families become healthier through better eating and physical activity, with a central goal of preventing obesity. One barrier that she and other experts sometimes face is the perception that they’re more like nannies than nutritionists.

In fact, Tabak said, savvy nutritionists know that blaming the individual isn’t just untrue, but counterproductive.

“It’s not a person making bad choices that led to an obesity epidemic,” she said. “We’re trying to lift that off of people. The world is set up to cause people to eat more than they need to.”

Her current work in addressing soda and other sugary beverages is a good example. Working with parents to set limits and remove temptation works best. “It’s about helping the family find a way to drink less soda,” she said.

Tabak joined the Prevention Research Center in 2010 because she was frustrated by research that helped a few people during studies, but didn’t last. “All I could think of was what happens when this is over?” she said of some of the projects in which she participated. At the PRC, she’s working as a research assistant professor on ways to provide information about evidence-based tools that improve health, and put them into widespread practice.

“The potential of it is what makes it so exciting,” she said.

Learn more about Rachel Tabak here.