Simone French, PhD

Professor, Division of Epidemiology and Community Health

Simone French

Contact Info

Office Phone 612-626-8594

Office Address:
300 West Bank Office Building

Mailing Address:
1300 S 2nd St
Room 300 West Bank Office Building
Minneapolis, MN 55454

PhD, Psychology, University of Minnesota

BA, Psychology, Macalester College


My research focuses on obesity prevention interventions that target children and adults in their natural settings, such as home, work, schools, and neighborhoods. My interventions target change in both individual-level behavior and the environments that shape behavior. Specifically, my work has looked at the role of the home food environment, physical activity, and food policies that shape population eating behaviors.  


Environment & exposure, equity, food & nutrition, mother & children, food policy, food environment, low income food access, food behavior, physical activity, obesity prevention, community interventions 


Research Summary/Interests

  • Obesity prevention interventions among children, youth and families.
  • Social and environmental influences on eating and physical activity behaviors.

I am a behavioral epidemiologist with 30 yrs of research experience in the social and behavioral aspects of obesity, nutrition and physical activity. My research has been community-partnered, randomized trials to evaluate environmental and individual-level behavioral interventions on body weight, dietary intake and physical activity. I have conducted interventions in schools, homes, and worksites and have worked with racially/ethnically diverse, low-income families, teachers and students, bus drivers, girl scout troops, and vending machine service company route drivers. My research is very policy relevant and translatable to community-serving organizations.

Research Funding Grants

  • 2021-2026, NIH, "Neighborhood Park Youth Sports Program Fee Waiver and Intensive Family Outreach to Promote Physical Activity with Diverse Children Ages 6-12 Years with Low-Income," Principal Investigator. Co-Investigators: Yingling Fan, Daheia Barr-Anderson, Nancy Sherwood, Susan Mason. Description: The proposed research evaluates a park-level intervention to increase moderate/vigorous physical activity and decrease sedentary time among low-income diverse children ages 6-12 yrs. A two-arm group randomized trial will randomize 24 parks for a 24 month period to compare an intervention that combines youth sports park program fee waiver plus intensive outreach versus usual outreach and usual program fee structure on changes in child physical activity.
  • 2021-2026, NIH, "Native American Youth Cardiovascular Disease Prevention: Implementation of Culturally Tailored Evidence-Based After School and Home Visitation Programs for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity," Project 3 in P50MD017342 (PI: Allen) C2DREAM Center for Chronic Disease Reduction and Equity Promotion Across Minnesota (C2DREAM) Project 3 Principal investigators: Simone French, Antony Stately. Co-investigators Michele Allen, Mary Owen, Julian Wolfson, Matthew Chinman. Description: The proposed project will use proven effective implementation strategies to build program organizational leadership and program staff implementation capacity to successfully engage urban American Indian families in strengths-based, culturally centered, evidence-based programs to promote youth physical activity and healthy eating. Sustained program engagement among urban Native American families will promote healthy eating and physical activity behaviors that will reduce future diabetes, obesity and cardiometabolic / cardiovascular disease risk in this highly burdened community. This study will achieve these goals through a community-based participatory research (CBPR) Coalition, including the healthcare provider Minneapolis Native American Community Clinic (NACC, primary care system), Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth Minnesota School Districts' Indian Education after school programs (school system), the social service provider Division of Indian Work's Family Spirit Home Visitation program (social service provider system), the Duluth-based Center of American Indian and Minority Health, and the departments of public health and University of Minnesota researchers. The Coalition will use the evidence-based 10-step Getting to Outcomes (GTO) tailoring and implementation approach.


See a full list of publications on PubMed

Select Publications

  • French SA, Fan, Y, Kunin-Batson AS, Berge JM, Kohli N, Lamm R, Sherwood NE. Three-year changes in low-income children's physical activity: Prospective influence of neighborhood environment and parent supportive behaviors (NET-Works Study). In press. Pediatrics. October 2020.
  • French SA, Sherwood NE, Veblen-Mortenson S, Crain AL, JaKa MM, Mitchell NR, Berge JM, Kunin-Batson AS, Truesdale K, Stevens J, Pratt C, Esposito L. NET-Works randomized clinical trial: Results of a three year childhood obesity prevention intervention for preschool-aged children. American Journal Public Health 2018; 108:1695-1706. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2018.304696.
  • French SA, Harnack L, Rydell S, Mitchell NR, Oakes, MJ. Financial incentives and purchase restrictions in a food benefit program affect the types of foods and beverages purchased: Results from a randomized trial. IJBNPA 2017 Sep;14(1):127. PMCID:PMC5602848
  • French SA, Sherwood NE, Mitchell NR, Fan Y. "Park use is associated with less sedentary time among low-income parents and their preschool child: The NET-Works study," Preventative Medicine Reports, March 2017
  • Cui Z, Stevens J, Truesdale KP, Zeng D, French S, Gordon-Larsen P. "Prediction of Body Mass Index Using Concurrently Self-Reported or Previously Measured Height and Weight," PLoS One, Nov 2016
  • Barnes TL, French SA, Mitchell NR, Wolfson J. "Fast-food consumption, diet quality and body weight: cross-sectional and prospective associations in a community sample of working adults," Public Health Nutrition, April 2016
  • Appelhans BM, French SA, Pagoto SL, Sherwood NE. "Managing temptation in obesity treatment: a neurobehavioral model of intervention strategies. Appetite, Jan 2016
  • Das KV, Fan Y, French SA. "Park-Use Behavior and Perceptions by Race, Hispanic Origin, and Immigrant Status in Minneapolis, MN: Implications on Park Strategies for Addressing Health Disparities," Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health, Jan 2016



  • PubH 6034, Evaluation

Community Engagement

Professional Society Memberships

  • International Society of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity (ISBNPA), Fellow 
  • Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM), Fellow
  • International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, Founding Editor
  • University of Minnesota Obesity Prevention Center, Former Director
  • Minnesota Obesity Center
  • The Obesity Society, Fellow
  • University of Minnesota Masonic Cancer Center


In The News

SPH News

In The Media

  • Workplace foods a source of unhealthy calories (Reuters)
  • University of Minnesota Study Suggests Support for Parents Can Help Trim Child Obesity (Minneapolis StarTribune)