Her research interests focus on public policies intended to reduce obesity incidence and prevalence and include: The effects of food and physical activity environments on individual diet and physical activity behavior, measurement of the food and physical activity environments, and the economic and societal effects of increased obesity rates. Dr. McKinnon earned her Ph.D. in public policy and administration at the George Washington University in Washington, DC. She also received a master of public administration from Harvard University, and a bachelor of arts degree from the Australian National University.

Joseph R. Sharkey, M.P.H., Ph.D., R.D., is associate professor of sociology in the School of Rural Public Health (SRPH) at Texas A&M University System Health Science Center. He is also director of the Texas Healthy Aging Research Network (TxHAN) and director of the Program for Research in Nutrition and Health Disparities, SRPH. One of his current research projects, “Behavioral and Environmental Influence on Obesity: Rural Context & Race/Ethnicity,” aims to examine the interplay of behavioral (individual and family) and environmental (home, social, and neighborhood-community) factors, food choice, and healthful eating among African-American, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic white families of rural Central Texas. The study will use a mixed-methods approach that includes qualitative (key informant interviews, focus groups, and participant observations), quantitative (in-home surveys and household food audits), and geographic information system (GIS) technology research methods.

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