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Constance Gewa, PhD

Department of Nutrition and Food Studies

Constance Gewa

Dr. Gewa, Associate Professor and Interim Chair of Nutrition and Food studies, teaches courses in public health and nutrition.

Dr. Gewa is a public health nutritionist whose research focuses nutritional status of mothers and children in low-income nations, especially those in Africa, with a distinct interest in three areas: 1) estimating dietary intake quantity and quality; 2) diet-/food-based strategies to improve to nutritional and health outcomes among populations in resource-poor settings; and 3) diet-related behavior change. Her focus on mothers and children is based on the fact that mothers and children tend to be the most nutritionally vulnerable members of their communities, especially in Africa. A majority of her publications have been based on primary data collected from multiple research studies in Kenya. However, she has also utilized secondary data collected from nationally sampled studies in Kenya, and other African nations to further explore nutrition-related factors among mothers and young children.

In looking at ways to estimate dietary intake, we have examined the validity of using the 24-hour recall as a tool in rural African settings and is interested in looking at the intersection between technology and valid dietary information in the Africa. Additionally, we are in identifying diet quality measures or indicators that are valid but easy to use and apply in both research and practice.

Dr. Gewa’s work in the area of diet/food-based strategies is based around her strong belief that food-based solutions offer multiple advantages to nutritionally insecure populations. These advantages include provision of multiple nutrients at relatively safe levels, increased food security and self-sufficiency, utilization of “within community” resources and higher possibilities for long-term effects and greater economic gains. She strongly believe that solutions to nutritional problems should be culturally appropriate and that they should incorporate local resources and address sustainability. She has been involved in research studies that have assessed the role of animal-source-foods, specifically beef and small fish in Kenya, in improving growth and development outcomes amongst mothers and children.

For the diet-related behavior change, Dr. Gewa’s work continues to highlight the role of psychosocial and environmental factors in determining nutritional status and feeding practices in Kenya. This is extremely important at a time when a number of low-income countries are experiencing demographic, epidemiological and nutrition transition. Having a good understanding of these factors helps to inform both practice and research.

Support for Dr. Gewa’s research work has come from multiple sources including the Global Livestock Collaborative Research Support Program (GL-CRSP), Virginia Department of Health, and George Mason University.

Education

  • PhD, Public Health, University of California at Los Angeles, 2007
  • MPH, Public Health, University of California at Los Angeles, 2003
  • MS, Applied Human Nutrition, University of Nairobi, Kenya, 1998
  • BS, Agriculture and Home Economics, Egerton University, Kenya, 1993