Lisa Harnack
Office Address:
300 West Bank Office Building
Mailing Address:

1300 S 2nd St
Room 300 West Bank Office Building
Minneapolis, MN 55454
United States

Lisa Harnack, DrPH, RD, MPH

Professor and Interim Division Head, Division of Epidemiology & Community Health

Titles

Director, Nutrition Coordinating Center (NCC)
Member, Healthy Weight Research Center
Member, Masonic Cancer Center (MCC)

Education

DrPH, Public Health Nutrition, University of California Berkeley
MPH, Public Health Nutrition, University of California Berkeley
BS, Dietetics, University of Wisconsin-Stout
AA, Rochester Community College

Summary

I am a public health nutrition expert who carries out research to improve the scientific evidence on which nutrition policies, programs, and practice are based. Examples include leading the first experimental trial evaluating whether putting calorie information on restaurant menus leads to the purchase and consumption of lower calorie meals. Findings from this study have been referenced in more than 30 domestic and international policy-related documents and reports. Most notably, my research was referenced in the code of regulation for calorie labeling on restaurant menus issued by the FDA. More recently, I carried out the first experimental trials evaluating food purchase restrictions on sugary foods as a strategy for reshaping the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to improve family nutrition. Findings are informing ongoing policy discussions related to this potential program change. Another recent example is a paper I authored that reports findings from a study commissioned by the CDC to identify sources of sodium in the American diet. The study found that more than two-thirds (71%) of the sodium in the diet comes from salt and other sodium containing compounds added to food during commercial processing. This finding has regulatory implications, as the FDA has stated it may remove salt from the Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) list if voluntary efforts by food manufacturers to lower the sodium content of commercial foods are ineffective. 

In addition to my research, I direct the University of Minnesota Nutrition Coordinating Center (NCC). This center developed, maintains, and supports two widely used dietary assessment tools- the Nutrition Data System for Research (NDSR) and the NCC Food and Nutrient Database. NDSR supports research at over 100 institutions, including most major research universities that conduct nutrition research and government agencies such as the NIH and NASA. NCC’s Food and Nutrient Database is licensed for use in providing nutrient data for food frequency questionnaires (including the widely used NIH Diet History Questionnaire) and consumer-oriented diet tracking apps.

Expertise

Food and nutrition program and policy evaluation, nutrition surveillance, dietary assessment, food and nutrient database development

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