Punam Ohri-Vachaspati

Senior Sustainability Scientist
DTPHX Campus


Punam Ohri-Vachaspati is a professor of nutrition and leads the ASU Food Environment and Policy research group. In 2017, she completed the RWJF Health Policy Fellowship working in Senator Gillibrand’s office in Washington DC. Her research interests center on public health nutrition, including: 

  • Social-ecological determinants of obesity
  • Role of environments and policies in influencing consumption behaviors and health outcomes
  • Determinants of food access among disadvantaged populations
  • Aassessment of federal nutrition assistance programs and policies
  • Assessment of food and physical activity environments
  • Study of nutrition interventions in schools and community settings.



  • RD - Case Western Reserve University, OH, 1997
  • PhD - Tufts University, MA, 1994
    Applied Nutrition and Food Policy
  • MS - Tufts University, MA, 1991
    Applied Nutrition and Food Policy
  • MS - Delhi University, 1982
    Food and Nutrition

Research Interests

Research focus: Public Health Nutrition

  • Social-ecological determinants of obesity
  • Role of environments and policies in influencing consumption behaviors and health outcomes
  • Determinants of food access among disadvantaged populations
  • Aassessment of federal nutrition assistance programs and policies
  • Assessment of food and physical activity environments
  • Study of nutrition interventions in schools and community settings.


Recent Publications

  • Ohri-Vachaspati P, Dachenhaus E, Green J, Mollner K, Hekler E, Todd M.  Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP) and Requests for Fruits and Vegetables Outside School Settings. J Acad Nutr and Diet. 2017. In press.
  • Gruner J, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Lorts C, DeWeese R, Yedidia M. FDA menu labeling: Predicted impact in four New Jersey cities. In Press. Am J Public Health.
  • Vaudrin N, Lloyd K, Yedidia M, Todd M, Ohri-Vachaspati P. Impact of the 2010 US Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act: A longitudinal analysis of school breakfast and lunch participation rates between 2008-2015. Am J Public Hlth. In press.
  • Flocke SA, Ohri-Vachispati P, Shon E, Trapl ES, Borawski E, Matlack K, Freedman DA. Developing multidimensional measures of healthy food access among low-income adults in Cleveland Ohio. Public Health Nutrition. 2017 (in press).
  • Tasevska N, DeLia D, Lorts C, Yedida MJ, Ohri-Vachaspati P. Socio-demographic differences in predictors of sugar sweetened beverage consumption among 3-18 year old children. J Acad Nutr and Diet. 2017. Epub ahead of print.
  • Gruner J, Ohri-Vachaspati P. Food and Beverage Selection Patterns among Menu Label Users and Nonusers: Results from a Cross-Sectional Study. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2017 Feb 10. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2016.12.012. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Bruening M, Adams MA, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Hurley J. Prevalence and Implementation practices of school salad bars across grade levels. Am J Hlth Prmot.  2017 Jan 1, 1-8. doi: https://doi.org/10.1177/0890117116689159
  • Freedman D, Flocke A, Shon, Matlack K, Trapl E, Ohri-Vachaspati, Osborne, & Borawski E. Farmers' market use patterns among Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients with high access to farmers' markets. J Nutr Educ Behavior, 2017. doi:10.1016/j.jneb.2017.01.007
  • DeWeese RS, Ohri-Vachaspati P. Cost of children's healthy versus unhealthy snacks do not differ at convenience stores. J Nutr Educ Behavior, 2016 doi:10.1016/jneb.2016.11.006.  IF 2.253
  • Green J, Ohri-Vachaspati P. Calorie menu label users may be saving calories by ordering healthier sides and beverages. J Acad Nutr and Diet, 2016 Forthcoming25. CAIF 3.608  
  • Bruening M, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Brewis A, Laska M, Todd M, Hruschka D, Schaefer DR, Whisner CM, Dunton G. Longitudinal social networks impacts on weight and weight-related behaviors assessed using mobile-based ecological momentary assessments: Study Protocols for the SPARC study. BMC Public Health. 2016 Aug 30;16:901.
  • Lorts C, Ohri-Vachaspati P. Disparities in who receives doctor’s advice to lose weight: does income make a difference? Prev Chronic Dis, 2016 Oct 6;13:E142.
  • DeWeese RS, Todd M, Karpyn A, Yedidia MJ, Kennedy M, Bruening M, Wharton CM, Ohri-Vachaspati P. Short-form audit instrument for assessing corner store healthfulness. Am J Health Promot. 2016; Forthcoming
  • DeWeese RS, Todd M, Karpyn A, Yedidia MJ, Kennedy M, Bruening M, Wharton CM, Ohri-Vachaspati P. Healthy store programs and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), but not the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), are associated with corner store healthfulness. Prev Med Rep. 2016;256-261. doi:10.1016/j.pmedr.2016.06.018
  • Lorts C, Ohri-Vachaspati P.  Eating patterns among low-income obese adults: does the doctor’s advice carry any weight?  Prev Med. 2016, 87: 89–94IF 3.905 CA
  • Freedman DA, Schneider C, Vaudrin N, Trapl E, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Taggart M, Cascio MA, Walsh C, Flocke, S. Narrative review of factors influencing farmer’s market use overall and among low-income populations. J Acad Nutr and Diet. 2016 Jul;116(7):1136-55 IF 3.467  
  • Turner L, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Powell L, Chaloupka F. Disparities and improvements in elementary school lunches from 2006-07 to 2012-13.  Prev Chronic Dis, 2016 Mar 17;13:E39. Forthcoming. IF 1.956.
  • Ohri-Vachaspati P, Turner L, Adams M, Bruening M, Chaloupka FJ. School resources  and engagement in technical assistance programs is associated with higher prevalence of salad bars in elementary school lunches in the US. CAJ Acad Nutr and Diet. 2016 Mar;116(3):417-26. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.10.023 IF 3.467
  • DeWeese R, Ohri-Vachaspati P. The role of distance in examining the association between active commuting to school and students' weight status. J Phys Act Health, 2015, 12(9). IF 2.09.
  • Buman MP, Epstein DR, Gutierrez M, Herb C, Hollingshead K, Huberty J, Hekler EB, Vega-Lopez S, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Hekler AC, Baldwin CM. BeWell24: Development and process evaluation of a smartphone “app” to improve sleep, sedentary, and active behaviors in US Veterans with increased metabolic risk. Transl Behav Med. 2016 Sep;6(3):438-48..
  • Adams MA, Bruening M, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Hurley JC.  Location of school lunch salad bars and fruit and vegetable consumption in middle schools: a corss-sectional plate waste study. J Acad Nutr and Diet. 2016 Mar;116(3):407-16. IF 3.467
  • Adams M, Bruening M, Ohri-Vachaspati P.   Use of salad bars in schools to increase fruit and vegetable consumption:  Where’s the evidence? J Acad Nutr and Diet. 2015 Aug; 115(8):1233-6 IF 3.467.  
  • Rimkus L. Isgor Z, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Zenk SN, Powell LM, Barker DC, Chaloupka FJ. Disparities in the availability and price of low-fat and higher-fat milk in U.S. food stores by community characteristics. J Acad Nutr and Diet. 2015 Dec; 115(12)1975-1985. IF 3.467.
  • Ohri-Vachaspati P, Isgor Z, Rimkus L, Powell LM, Barker D, Chaoupka F. Child-Directed Marketing Inside and on the Exterior of Fast-Food Restaurants. Am J Prev Med, 2015 Jan;48(1):22-30. CA, IF 5.092.
  • Green J, Brown A, Ohri-Vachaspati P.  Socio-demographic disparities among fast-food restaurant customers who notice and use calorie menu labels. J Acad Nutr and Diet, 2015 Jul;115(7):1093-101. CA, IF 3.467.  
  • Echeverria S, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Yedidia M. The influence of parental nativity, neighborhood disadvantage, and the build environment on physical activity behaviors among Latino youth.  J. Immigrant Minority Health, 2015, 17, (2), 519-526. IF 1.264. 
  • Ohri-Vachaspati P, DeLia D, DeWeese R, Crespo N, Todd M, Yedidia M. The Relative Contribution of Layers of the Social Ecological Model to Childhood Obesity.  Public Health Nutr. 2015 Aug;18(11):2055-66.  CA, IF 2.483.  
  • Larkey L, Vega-Lopez S, Keller C, McClain D, Ainsworth B, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Smith L, Jeong M. A Biobehavioral model of weight loss associated with meditative movement among breast cancer survivors. Health Psychology Open. 2014, doi: 10.1177/2055102914565495. IF 2.175
  • Tang X, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Abbott J, Aggarwal R, Tulloch D, Lloyd K, Yedidia M. 
  • Associations between food environment around schools and professionally measured weight status for middle and high school students.  Child Obes.  2014, 10 (6), 511-517. CA, IF  1.868
  • Zenk SN, Powell LM, Rimkus L, Isgor Z, Barker D, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Chaloupka F. Relative and absolute availability of healthier food and beverage alternatives differ across communities in the United States. Am J Public Health, 2014, 104 (11), 2170-2178. IF 4.229
  • Rimkus L, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Powell LM, Zenk SN, Quinn CM, Barker DC, Pugach O, Resnick EA, Chaloupka FJ. Development and reliability testing of a fast food restaurant observation form.  Am J Health Promot, 2014, 45 (6), 540-548IF 2.65.
  • Bertmann FM, Barroso C, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Hampl J, Sell K, Wharton CM. Women, Infants, and Children Cash Value Voucher (CVV) use in Arizona: A qualitative exploration of barriers and strategies related to fruit and vegetable purchases. J Nutr Educ and Behav, 2014;46(3):S53–S58IF 2.072.
  • Ohri-Vachaspati P.  Parental perception of the healthfulness of school meals and its association with student behavior. Appetite. 2013, 74, 44-47. CA, IF 3.144.
  • DeWeese R, Yedidia M, Tulloch D, Ohri-Vachaspati P. Associations of neighborhood perceptions with active school commuting in low-income cities. Am J Prev Med. 2013. 45 (4), 393-400. CAIF 5.092.
  • Ohri-Vachaspati P, Lloyd K, DeLia D, Yedidia M. A closer examination of the relationship between childhood obesity and the food and physical activity environment. Prev Med. 2013, 57 (3), 162-167CA; IF 3.917
  • Ohri-Vachaspati P, Turner L, Chaloupka F. Elementary school participation in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Team Nutrition program is associated with more healthful school lunches. J Nutr Educ and Behav. 2013, 45 (6), 733-738.  CA; IF 2.072. 
  • Rimkus L, Powell LM, Zenk S, , Han E, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Pugach O, Barker D, Resnick E, Quinn C., Myllylluoma J, Chaloupka FJ.  Development and reliability testing of a food store observation form. J Nutr Educ and Behav. 2013, 45 (6), 540-548. IF 2.072. 
  • Kirkpatrick SI, Reedy J, Kahle LL, Harris JL, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Krebs-Smith SM. Fast food menu offerings vary in dietary quality, but are consistently poor. Public Health Nutr. 2013. 2013; 15:1-8. IF 2.483
  • Ohri-Vachaspati P, Turner L, Chaloupka F. Fresh fruit and vegetable program participation in elementary schools in the United States and availability of fruits and vegetables in school lunch meals. J Acad Nutr and Diet. 2012;112(6):921-926. CA, IF 3.467.  
  • Ohri-Vachaspati P, Turner L, Chaloupka F. Alliance for a healthier generation's competitive beverage and food guidelines: Do elementary school administrators know about them and do they report implementing them?  J Sch Health. 2012;82:469-477. CA; IF 1.659
  • Bertmann F, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Buman M, Wharton CM. Implementation of wireless terminals at farmers' markets: Impact on SNAP redemption and overall sales. Am J Public Health. 2012;102(7):e53-e55. IF 4.229.
  • Han E, Powell LM, Zenk SN, Rimkus L, Ohri-Vachaspati P, Chaloupka F. Classification bias in commercial business lists for retail food stores in the US. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2012;9(1):46. IF3.68.  
  • Ohri-Vachaspati P, Leviton L, Bors P, Brennan L, Brownson RC, Strunk S. Strategies proposed by healthy kids, healthy communities partnerships to prevent childhood obesity. Prev Chronic Dis. 2012;9(100292). CA, IF 1.956.

Research Activity

Current Active Grants and Projects:

  1. Funding Agency:  National Institutes of Health (NICHD-R01)  Amount: $3,027,486                 Dates: March 2012 – July 2018                                    Role: PI                                    POhri-Vachaspati, ASU and M. Yedidia, Rutgers  (Dual PI)  Title:  Impact of Environmental Changes on Children's BMI and Behaviors: A Panel Study.This longitudinal study is tracking changes in food and PA behaviors and weight outcomes among 1200 low-income children in five New Jersey cities and capturing changes in their environment. The project aims to assess the impact of environmental changes on children’s weight outcomes and associated behavior
  2. Funding Agency: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation                 Amount: $559,798                  Dates: July 2012 – December 2017Role: PI                         P. Ohri-Vachaspati (PI)Title: Tracking the Impact on Children of Changes in the Food and Physical Activity Environments.This project will complement the NICHD-R01 grant (below) and track children’s exposure to a comprehensive set of changes in their environment – intended or not – related to food and physical activity (PA) behaviors and weight status.  
  3. Funding Agency:  National Institutes of Health (NHLBI-R01)   Amount: $2,950,306                 Dates: September 2017 – July 2021                                          Role: PI                                    POhri-Vachaspati, ASU and M. Yedidia, Rutgers  (Dual PI)  Title:  Examining Obesity Declines among School Children: The Role of Changes in the Food and Physical Activity Environments.This study aims to identify alterable factors in the food and PA environment associated with declines in obesity rates among school children in order to develop tailored interventions for reducing the burden of childhood obesity in schools and communities across the country.
  4. Funding Agency:  Robert Wood Johnson Foundation                Amount: $165,000                  Dates: September 2016 – August 2018                                     Role: PI                                    POhri-Vachaspati (PI)  Title: Healthy Policy Fellowship.  
  5. Funding Agency:  National Institutes of Health (NICHD-R03)  Amount: $154,500                  Dates: July 2014 – June 2018                                                                           Role: PI                        POhri-Vachaspati, ASU and M. Bruening, ASU (Dual PI)  Title:   Improving Accuracy of Classifying Child Weight Status in Population-Based Studies.This project will compare the accuracy of classifying the weight status of children using parent-measured heights and weights over to parent reported measurements. 

Prior projects:


Fall 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
OBS 501Obesity Prevention Management
Summer 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
NTR 692Research
NTR 792Research
Spring 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
NTR 500Research Methods
EXW 692Research
EXW 792Research
EXW 799Dissertation
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
NTR 501Research Methods/Nutrition II
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
EXW 100Intro to Health and Wellness
Fall 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
NTR 501Research Methods/Nutrition II
OBS 598Special Topics
Fall 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
NTR 501Research Methods/Nutrition II
OBS 598Special Topics
Spring 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
NTR 501Research Methods/Nutrition II
Fall 2013
Course NumberCourse Title
NTR 527Policies, Environment &Obesity