Dev Research and Extension Group


Dr. Dipti Dev is interested in Child Health Behaviors, Childhood Obesity Prevention, Child Care Policy, Federal Subsidy Programs, Nutrition and Feeding in Child Care, Behavioral Economics principles to improve young children’s healthy food choices, and Program Development and Evaluation.

EAT Family Style Dining Proper Practice Wheel
Child participates in family style eating program
Child holds a strawberry
Kid gives thumbs up during EAT program
Child practices getting his own portions during a meal

Research & Extension

Dr. Dev’s research and extension focuses on policy and environmental approaches to childhood obesity prevention. Her programming targets young children and adult caregivers, focusing on the child care environments.

Current Research and Extension Projects

Healthy Eating program
  • Healthy Eating in Child Care: An Interactive Providers’ Curriculum for Feeding Preschool-Aged Children
    Child care providers can be a major force in shaping young children’s eating behaviors and dietary intake patterns. Leading national organizations such as the Institute of Medicine, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and the Office of Head Start recommend healthful feeding practices for preschoolers attending child care to help children develop long-term healthy eating behaviors and prevent childhood obesity.

The recommendations specifically include that child care providers practice responsive feeding and avoid controlling practices such as pressure to eat and restriction. Yet, child care providers do not meet these recommendations. Further, there is a lack of evidence-based programming for child care providers with limited resources regarding practicing feeding recommendations. The goal of this project is to develop and evaluate interactive programming (video clips and workbooks) to help child care providers meet feeding practice recommendations.

Funding : UNL Extension Innovation and Child and Youth Training and Technical Assistance Program.
Family Style Dining
  • Promoting Family Style Dining in Child Care: Development and Assessment of Web-based and Interactive Programming
    A widely endorsed feeding practice for preschool children (2-5yrs) is family style dining (FSD) - where children are allowed to select their own portions and serve themselves. Such a responsive feeding approach is supportive of children’s internal cues of hunger and fullness and self-regulation of energy intake.
Further, family style dining has been associated with various positive child outcomes including social, emotional, and motor skill development in children. Therefore, FSD is widely endorsed by several early childhood and health organizations including the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Public Health Association (APHA), and the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Despite being widely endorsed and having numerous benefits for child development, FSD is not practiced in most child care settings. Research has shown that Head Start providers practice FSD significantly more often than CACFP and non-CACFP providers. The objective of the proposed project is to bridge this knowledge gap by developing and evaluating web-based, interactive programming for early childhood educators to practice family style meal service for preschoolers (2-5 yrs) attending child care.

Funding: The Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition
  • Nutrition and Physical Activity Self-Assessment for Child Care (Go NAP SACC): Collaboration with Nebraska Step Up to Quality
    Given that over 12 million US children attend child care, Nebraska Department of Education and NE Department of Health and Human services has launched the NE Step Up to Quality Initiative to improve child care quality and support the learning and development of children.
A critical component of this program is to implement the Go NAP SACC evidence-based intervention in child care centers with the goal of improving child care nutrition and physical activity environments and prevent childhood obesity. The objectives of the present project is to develop website for NE Go NAP SACC data collection and to evaluate the ability of the NE Go NAP SACC intervention to improve child dietary intake and physical activity, and enhance child care environment. Further, the program impact will be evaluated based on:
  • Child care context: Head Start, Child and Adult Care food Program funded and non-CACFP programs
  • Child care type: Center-based vs. Family day care
  • Demographics: Urban vs. Rural

Funding: NE Department of Health and Human Service, NE Department of Education and Extension Innovation


Journal Publications

  1. Garcia, A. S., Takahashi, S., Anderson-Knott, M., & Dev, D. A. (accepted). Determinants of physical activity for Latino and White middle school-aged children. Journal of School Health.
  2. Dev, D. A., Carraway-Stage, V., Schober, D., Kok, C. M., & McBride, B. (2017). Child care providers' experience with implementing nutrition education for young children. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
  3. Dev, D. A., Speirs, K. E., Williams, N. A., Ramsay, S., McBride, B. A., & Hatton-Bowers, H. (2017). Providers perspectives on self-regulation impact their use of responsive feeding practices in child care. Appetite, 118, 66–74.
  4. Dev, D. A., Williams, C. B, Ramsay, S., McBride, B., Srivastava, D., May, A., Arcan, C., & Adachi-Mejia, A. (2017). Engaging parents to promote children’s nutrition and health: Providers’ barriers and strategies in Head Start and child care centers. American Journal of Health Promotion, 31, 153–162.
  5. Williams, N. A., Dev, D. A., Hankey, M., & Blitch, K. A. (2017). Role of food preoccupation and current dieting in the associations of parental feeding practices to emotional eating in young adults: A moderated mediation study. Appetite, 111, 195–202.
  6. Dev, D. A., McBride, B. A., Speirs, K. E., Blitch, K., & Williams, N. A. (2016). “Great job cleaning your plate today!” Determinants of child care providers’ use of controlling feeding practices: An exploratory examination. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 116, 1803–1809. Article disseminated in more than 15 media outlets nationally and internationally.
  7. Hankey, M., Williams, N. A., & Dev, D. A. (2016). Uninvolved maternal feeding style moderates the association of emotional overeating to preschoolers' body mass index z-scores. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 48, 530–537.
  8. Lisson, S., Goodell, L. S., Dev, D. A., Wilkerson, K., Hegde, A. V., & Stage C.A. (2016). Nutrition education resources in North Carolina–based Head Start preschool programs: Administrator and teacher perceptions of availability and use. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 48, 655–663.
  9. Tandon, P. S., Tovar, A., Jayasuriya, A. T., Welker, E., Schober, D. J., Copeland, K., Dev D. A., Murriel, A. L., Asmo, D., & Ward, D. S. (2016). The relationship between physical activity and diet and young children's cognitive development: A systematic review. Preventive Medicine Reports, 3, 379–390.
  10. McBride, B. A., & Dev, D. A. (2014). Preventing childhood obesity: Strategies to help preschoolers develop healthy eating habits. Young Children. 9 (69): 36-42
  11. Dev, D. A., Speirs, K. E., McBride, B. A., Donovan, S. M., Chapman-Novakofski, K. (2014). Head Start and child care providers’ motivators, barriers and facilitators to practicing family style meal service. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 29(4): 649-659.
  12. Dev, D. A., McBride, B. A., Speirs, K. E., Donovan, S. M., & Cho, H. (2014). Predictors of Head Start and child care providers’ healthful and controlling feeding practices with 2- to 5-year old children. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 114(9):1396-1403
  13. Dev, D. A., McBride, B. A., & STRONG Kids Research Team. (2013). Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Benchmarks for Nutrition in Childcare (2011): Are childcare providers across context meeting recommendations? Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 113(10), 1346-1353.
  14. Dev, D. A., McBride, B. A., Fiese, B. H., Jones, B. L., Cho, H., & STRONG Kids Research Team. (2013). Risk factors for overweight/obesity in pre-school children. Childhood Obesity, 9(5), 399-404.

Extension Publications

  1. Clark, C., Hatton-Bowers, H., Gottschalk, C.,Dev, D.A.,& Poppe, L. (2017). Self-regulation in early childhood. Nebraska Extension.
  2. Clark, C., Hatton-Bowers, H., Gottschalk, C.,Dev, D.A.,& Poppe, L. (2017). Strategies for helping young children with self-regulation. Nebraska Extension.
  3. Garcia, S.,Aldekhe,A.Z., Dev,D.A.,Foged,J.J., & Kunz,G. M. (2017). Enhancing mealtimes for children with autism: Feeding challenges and strategies. Nebraska Extension.
  4. Swartz, A.R.,&Dev,D.A. (2014).Little kids cook. Leaders and participant guide. Nebraska Extension.


Principal Investigator

Dr. Dipti Dev

Dipti Dev

Dipti Dev is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Child, Youth and Family Studies, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) since January 2014. She is also the Extension Specialist for Child Health Behaviors. She completed her PhD studies in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Grad Student Collaborators

Car Mun Kok

Car Mun Kok Ph.D., Family Science

Yage Guo

Yage Guo Ph.D., Psychological Studies

Elsa Escalante

Elsa Escalante Ph.D., Human Sciences

Jasleen Thind

Jasleen Thind Masters, Marriage and Family Therapy

Maha Elrakaiby

Maha Elrakaiby Masters, Early Childhood/Chind Development

Undergraduate Collaborators

Ann Essay

Ann Essay Dietetics and Nutrition, Exercise, Health Science

Alexis Noelder

Alexis Noelder Human Resource Management and Marketing

Emma Marie Thomas

Emma Marie Thomas Journalism

Kelsey Doerr

Kelsey Doerr Nutrition and Dietetics

Undergraduate Volunteers

Jeffrey Maddox II

Jeffrey Maddox II Secondary Education

Alyssa Schroeder

Alyssa Schroeder Psychology

Austin Meyers

Austin Meyers Biology

Isaac Kim

Isaac Kim Psychology/Pre-med

Melanie Melashenko

Melanie Melashenko Nutrition & Dietetics

Extension & Outreach

Extension Programs and Publications


Healthy Eating in Child Care

Take a sneak peak at the curriculum by watching short videos below.



Interested in the curriculum? If you have questions about the curriculum or want to join our team- Contact us

Leader's Guide
Participant's Guide

Dr. Dev’s work group is committed to serving the local community!

Dr. Dev Presentation
  1. Dev, DA, Educare Nutrition Parent Workshop, "Eating Well at Home: Low Cost and Easy strategies," Educare of Lincoln, Lincoln, NE. (November 11, 2014).
  2. Dev, DA, Educare Nutrition Parent Workshop, "Eating Well at Home: Low Cost and Easy strategies," Educare of Lincoln, Educare Lincoln. (November 6, 2014).
  3. Dev, DA, Growing healthy kids: Summer teacher workshops, "Eating Well at School: Low Cost and Easy strategies," NE EXTENSION, Lincoln, NE. (July 29, 2014).
  4. Dev, DA, Growing healthy kids: Summer teacher workshops, "Eating Well at School: Low Cost and Easy strategies," NE EXTENSION, Lincoln, NE. (June 25, 2014).
  5. Dev, DA, NAP SACC Professional Development, "Family Style Dining in Child Care: Providers Perceptions," DHHS AND NE EXTENSION, Omaha, NE. (June 16, 2014).
  6. Dev, DA, Growing healthy kids: Summer teacher workshops, "Eating Well in School: Low Cost and Easy strategies," NE EXTENSION, Lincoln, NE. (May 29, 2014).
  7. Dev, DA, Learning Child Team Retreat, "Healthy Children and Family in NE: Extension Initiatives 2014," Lincoln, NE. (April 9, 2014).
  8. Dev, DA, Nebraska NAP SACC Trainers 2014 Annual Update, "Family Style Meals in Child Care: Provider Perceptions," NE EXTENSION, DHHS, Lincoln Lancaster County Health Dept. (March 3, 2014).
  9. Dev, DA, Caring about Kids: Early Childhood Conference, "Eating Well in Child Care: Low Cost and Easy Strategies," Nebraska Extension, Ainsworth, Nebraska. (February 1, 2014).

Dr. Dev’s workgroup conducts ‘Eating Well in Child Care’ and ‘Nutrition Education’ workshops for preschool children at Educare, Lincoln on Nov 6th and 11th, 2014
The goal of these workshops was to improve parents’ mealtime feeding practices and to increase children’s exposure to, and consumption of fruits and vegetables.