Friedman Faculty - Folta
Sara C Folta
Assistant Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy

Adjunct Scientist, Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Center on Aging Nutrition, Exercise Physiology, and Sarcopenia Laboratory

Assistant Professor, Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute


Ph.D. in Nutrition from Tufts University

M.S. in Cell and Molecular Biology from The University of Vermont

Curriculum Vitae:
Contact Information
(617) 636-3423
(617) 636-3727
General Research: 

My research interests focus on public health nutrition, or the utilization of community-based strategies for improving dietary intake, physical activity, and body composition. I have particular expertise in behavioral psychology, communications, and qualitative methods. A major line of my research involves community-based interventions to improve heart health among women. A second area of research includes behavioral strategies to improve health and well-being among older adults, particularly through the development of physical activity interventions. My third line of research involves community-based interventions for obesity prevention among children. These studies, in which theory-based communications strategies were a major component, are notable for the use of the eco-social model in which multiple levels (individual-organization-community-policy) are targeted.

Current Research: 

Change Clubs for African American Women Study. The purpose of
this pilot study is to test the feasilibilty of civic engagement as a
novel approach to behavior change, linking the individual and community
levels in a way that is mutually reinforcing and placing the focus on collective
health. (Principal Investigator)

Heart Health for African American Women: A Multidisciplinary Approach.
The purpose of this study is to gain an enhanced understanding from a
multidisciplinary perspective of cardiovascular disease risk factors
among African American women, who have the highest CVD mortality rates
among U.S. adults. (Co-Principal Investigator)

Strong Hearts, Healthy Communities: A Rural Community CVD Prevention Program. The
objective is to reduce rural CVD disparities through civic engagement
and implementation of a community-based intervention in 10 underserved
rural towns in Montana. The novel integration of civic engagement and
community-based programming has the potential to provide a feasible
model for other underserved rural communities to improve health,
well-being, quality of life, and reduce CVD risk among residents. (Co-Investigator)

Understanding the Protective Mechanisms of Family Dinners: Psychometric Testing and Evaluation of the Family Dinner Index. The investigative
team developed parent and child versions of the Family Dinner Index
(FDI), which is the first measure to examine family dinners from a
multidimensional perspective as they pertain to adolescent risk and
obesity-related outcomes. The purpose of this study is to finalize and
subsequently test the parent and child versions of the FDI (FDI-P and
FDI-C, respectively) to assess reliability and validity.

Increasing the Supply and Demand for Healthful Kids' Meals.
This Phase I study is designed to evaluate the feasibility and
effectiveness of a restaurant-based nutrition intervention centering on
demand for healthy kids' meals that utilizes four marketing strategies
(character toy giveaways, pricing interventions, promotional material
such as placemats and kids' menus, and waitstaff recommendations).

Past Research: 

Strong Women- Healthy Hearts. The goal of this project was to study the dissemination of an effective community-based heart health program for midlife and older women using the RE-AIM framework. (Co-Investigator)

The VIVE Study. The purpose of this study was to develop and evaluate an exercise and nutrition program for older adults in assisted living/senior housing. The program was designed to improve functional status and quality of life in this population. (Principal Investigator)

The LIFE Study. This Phase 3, multicenter randomized controlled trial is designed to compare a moderate-intensity physical activity program to a sucessful aging health education program in 1,600 sedentary older persons who are followed for an average of 2.7 years. The primary outcome is major mobility disability. (Co-Investigator)

The GREEN Study. The goal of this project was to determine whether a multi-channel school-based communication campaign that combines healthy eating and eco-friendly messages will improve the quality of foods that children bring from home more than a healthy eating campaign alone and compared to a control/delayed intervention condition. (Co-Investigator)

Professional Affiliations

Member, American Society for Nutrition; Member, International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity; Co-Chair of the Aging Special Interest Group, Society of Behavioral Medicine; Member and Past-Chair of the Healthy Aging Division, Society for Nutrition Education