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Widen, Elizabeth

Beth Widen

Assistant Professor
Department of Nutritional Sciences, School of Human Ecology

Amy Johnson McLaughlin Administrative Chair in Human Ecology | Amy Johnson McLaughlin Centennial Professorship in Home Economics


Phone: 512-232-1580

Office Location
PAI 5.32

Dr. Beth Widen is a Registered Dietitian and Assistant Professor with expertise in nutrition science, epidemiology, global health, obesity, maternal and child health and clinical translational research. Dr. Widen's research is funded by a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, the Thrasher Research Fund, the St. David's Foundation and the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. 

Dr. Widen holds a BS in Dietetics from Miami University, an RD from University of Maryland at College Park, and a PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology from Gillings School of Global Public Health at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to completing her PhD, Dr. Widen was an Intramural Research Training Award Fellow at the National Institutes of Health. Following her PhD, Dr. Widen completed an interdisciplinary postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University.

Dr. Widen's research program applies an interdisciplinary life course approach to the intersection of nutrition sciences with reproductive, perinatal, pediatric and nutritional epidemiology. The goal of Dr. Widen's research is to develop and apply advanced analytic methods and interdisciplinary approaches to rigorously evaluate the role of nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life on short and long-term health.

Three complementary themes underlie Dr. Widen's research program: 1) the role of nutrition during pregnancy and lactation on short- and long-term maternal and child health; 2) the interrelationships between maternal and infant nutrition; and 3) developing and evaluating interventions to improve maternal and child health. In her work, Dr. Widen integrates advanced quantitative methods, nutritional assessment methods and a human biology theoretical orientation. Widen examines these themes in various contexts including HIV-infected, uninfected and exposed populations in Sub-Saharan African, and among mothers and their infants in New York City. Dr. Widen's currently funded research includes a R00 Pathway to Independence Award "Pregnancy weight trajectories and offspring adiposity" and a Thrasher Research Fund Early Career Award "Pathways between maternal nutrition, toxicant exposure, home environment and child neurodevelopment." 

At UT, Widen leads a prospective cohort study of pregnant women and their infants in Austin, Texas. This prospective cohort is focused on body fat changes in pregnant women and neonatal adiposity. She also is co-PI on an infant feeding intervention in the Austin area with collaborators in Nutritional Sciences and Human Development and Family Sciences. 

Lane C, Widen E, Collins S, Young S. HIV-exposed, uninfected infants in Uganda experience poorer growth and body composition trajectories than HIV-unexposed infants. In press at JAIDS.

Asim M*, Nazaw Y, Hayward M, Widen E. Prelacteal Feeding Practices in Pakistan: A Mixed-Methods Study. Int Breastfeed J. 2020 Jun 8;15(1):53. doi: 10.1186/s13006-020-00295-8.

Janumala I, Toro-Ramos T, Widen E, Rosenn B, Crane J, Horowitz M, Lin S, Gidwani S, Paley C, Thornton J, Pi-Sunyer X, Gallagher D. Increased visceral adipose tissue without weight retention at 59 weeks postpartum. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2020 Feb 6; doi: 10.1002/oby.22736.

Tuthill E, Miller J, Collins S, Widen E, Onono M, Young S. HIV Infection, Hunger, Breastfeeding Self-efficacy, and Depressive Symptoms are Associated with Exclusive Breastfeeding to 6 months Among Women in Western Kenya: A Longitudinal Observational Study. Int Breastfeed J. 2020 Jan 16;15(1):4.

Widen E, Nichols A*, Kahn L, Factor-Litvak P, Insel B, Hoepner L, Dube S, Rauh V, Perera F, Rundle A. Prepregnancy obesity is associated with cognitive outcomes in boys in a low-income, multiethnic birth cohort. BMC Pediatr. 2019 Dec 20;19(1):507.

Heshka S, Lemos T, Astbury N, Widen E, Davidson L, Goodpaster B, DeLany J, Strain G, Pomp A, Courcoulas A, Lin S, Janumala I, Yu W, Kang P, Thornton J, Gallagher D. Resting energy expenditure and organ-tissue body composition five years after bariatric surgery. Obes Surg. 2019 Oct 15. doi: 10.1007/s11695-019-04217-4

Nichols A*, Insel B, Rundle A, Hoepner L, Factor-Litvak P, Ruah V, Perera F, Widen E. Maternal prepregnancy overweight and obesity are associated with lower psychomotor development scores in boys at age 3. J Dev Orig Health Dis. Sept 2019. doi: 10.1017/S2040174419000412

Rundle A, Gallagher D, Herbstman J, Goldsmith J, Holmes D, Hassoun A, Oberfield S, Miller R, Andrews H, Widen E, Hoepner L, Perera F. Prenatal Exposure to Airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Childhood Growth Trajectories from Age 5 to 14 Years. Environ Res. 2019 Jul 19;177:108595.

Vandyousefi S, Whaley S, Widen E, Asigbee F, Landry M, Ghaddar R, Davis J. Association of Breastfeeding and Early Exposure to Sugar-Sweetened Beverages with Obesity Prevalence in Offspring born to Mothers with and without Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. Pediatr Obes. 2019 Dec;14(12):e12569.

Kahn L, Widen E, Straka N, Liu X, Cirillo P, Cohn B, Buck-Louis G, Factor-Litvak P. The relationship of birth weight and adiposity across the life course to semen quality in middle age: results from the Study of the Environment and Reproduction follow-up to the Child Health and Development Studies. 2019 Nov;30 Suppl 2:S17-S27.

Wilkes M, Thornton J, Horlick M, Sopher A, Wang J, Widen E, Pierson R, Gallagher D. Relationship of BMIZ score to fat percent and fat mass in multiethnic prepubertal children. Pediatr Obes 2019 Jan;14(1).

Widen E, Tsai I*, Collins S, Wekesa P, China J, Krumdieck N, Miller J, Weiser S, Onono M, Young S. HIV-infection is associated with adverse changes in body composition during pregnancy and lactation among Kenyan women. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2019 Mar;73(3):474-482.

Davidson L, Yu W, Goodpaster B, DeLany J, Widen E, Lemos T, Strain G, Pomp A, Courcoulas A, Lin S, Janumala I, Thornton J, Gallagher D. Fat-free mass and skeletal muscle mass five years after bariatric surgery. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018 Jul;26(7):1130-1136.

Familiar I, Collins S*, Sikorskii A, Ruisenor-Escudero R, Natamba B, Bangirana P, Widen EM, Achidri D, Achola H, Onen D, Boivin M, Young SL. Quality of caregiving is positively associated with neurodevelopment during the first year of life among HIV-exposed uninfected children in Uganda. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2018 Mar 1;77(3):235-242

Widen E, Kahn L, Cirillo P, Cohn B, Kezios K, Factor-Litvak P. Prepregnancy obesity is associated with impaired child neurodevelopment. Matern Child Nutr. 2018 Jan;14(1)

Widen E, Collins S*, Khan H*, Biribawa C, Achidri D, Achoko W, Ghosh S, Griffiths J, Achola H, Young S. Food insecurity, but not HIV infection status, is associated with adverse changes in body composition during lactation among Ugandan women of mixed HIV status. Am J Clin Nutr 2017 Feb; 105(2): 361-368 .

Hoepner L, Whyatt R, Widen E, Diurka D, Calafat A, Perera F, Rundle R. Bisphenol A and Adiposity in an Inner-City Birth Cohort. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Oct;124(10):1644-1650

Widen E, Whyatt R, Hoepner L, Ramirez-Carvey J, Oberfield S, Hassoun A, Perera F, Gallagher D, Rundle A. Gestational weight gain and obesity, adiposity and body size in African American and Dominican children in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan. Matern Child Nutr. 2016 Oct;12(4):918-28.

Widen E, Whyatt R, Hoepner L, Ramirez-Carvey J, Mueller N, Oberfield S, Hassoun A, Perera F, Gallagher D, Rundle A. Excessive gestational weight gain is associated with long-term weight retention and body fat at seven years postpartum among African-American and Dominican mothers with underweight, normal and overweight prepregnancy BMI. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec;102(6):1460-7.

Widen E, Factor-Litvak P, Gallagher D, Paxton A, Pierson R, Heymsfield S, Lederman S. The pattern of gestational weight gain is associated with changes in maternal body composition and neonatal size. Matern Child Health J. 2015 Oct;19(10):2286-94.

Widen E, Bentley M, Chasela C, Kayira D, Flax V, Kourtis A, Ellington S, Kacheche Z, Tegha G, Jamieson D, van der Horst C, Allen L, Shahab-Ferdows S, Adair L for the BAN Study Team. Antiretroviral prophylaxis is associated with iron deficiency that is mitigated with supplementation in HIV-infected Malawian women, but is not associated with infant iron deficiency. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Jul 1;69(3):319-28.

Mueller NT, Whyatt R, Hoepner L, Oberfield S, Dominguez-Bello M, Widen E, Hassoun A, Perera F, Rundle A. Prenatal exposure to antibiotics, cesarean section, and risk of childhood obesity. Int J Obes (Lond). 2015 Apr;39(4):665-70.

Widen E, Gallagher D. Body composition changes in pregnancy: measurement, predictors and outcomes. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jun;68(6):643-52.

Widen E, Strain G, King W, Yu W, Lin S, Goodpaster B, Thornton J, Courcoulas A, Pomp A, Gallagher D. Validity of bioelectrical impedance analysis for measuring changes in body water and percent fat after bariatric surgery. Obes Surg. 2014 Jun;24(6):847-54.

Widen E, Bentley M, Kayira D, Chasela C, Daza E, Kacheche Z, Tegha G, Jamieson D, Kourtis A, van der Horst C, Allen L, Shahab-Ferdows S, Adair L for the BAN Study Team. Changes in soluble transferrin receptor and hemoglobin concentrations in Malawian mothers are associated with those values in their exclusively breastfed, HIV-exposed infants. J Nutr. 2014 Mar;144(3):367-74.

Widen E, Bentley M, Kayira D, Chasela C, Jamieson D, Tembo M, Soko A, Kourtis A, Flax V, Ellington S, van der Horst C, Adair L on behalf of the BAN Study team. Maternal weight loss during exclusive breastfeeding is associated with reduced weight and length gain in daughters of HIV-infected Malawian women. J Nutr. 2013 Jul;143(7):1168-75.

Widen E, Siega-Riz AM. Perinatal Nutrition: A practical guide to assess and counsel women on diet. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2010 Nov-Dec;55(6):540-549.

K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, 2016-2021, NIH/NICHD K99HD086304

Best Paper in Obesity Research 2015, Science Unbound Foundation

Thrasher Research Fund Early Career Award, 2016-2018

Obesity Research Postdoctoral Training Award, 2015-2016, NIH/NIDDK T32DK007559

Interdisciplinary Nutrition and Population Health Postdoctoral Training Award, 2012-2014, NIH/NIDDK T32DK091227

Gerber Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, 2011, American Society for Nutrition

Graduate School Fellowship in Science and Technology,  2008-2009, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

NTR 315, Nutrition through the Lifecycle