Amanda Thompson

Assistant Professor
Ph.D. Anthropology, Emory University, 2007
MPH Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, 2007
althomps@email.unc.edu
(919) 843-6255
403C CPC East, 123 W. Franklin St.
Carolina Population Center CB# 8120
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Research interests:
Early life determinants of body composition, obesity and health; infant and child feeding practices; cultural and biomedical influences on human growth and physiology.

Research & Activities
I am a biological anthropologist specializing in human growth and nutrition. My research focuses on biocultural and biomedical influences on growth and physiology during infancy and childhood. I am particularly interested in how the physiology of human growth and development is shaped by the local environment, biomedical beliefs and feeding practices.

My research combines biological, anthropological and public health approaches in exploring the effects of the local maternal-infant environment in shaping human growth and hormonal development early in life and their lasting impacts on health and reproductive well-being throughout the lifespan. My dissertation fieldwork among healthy, middle-class infants in Atlanta, Georgia explored sex steroid production in infancy, utilizing novel, non-invasive methods adapted from those used in field endocrinology of primates. Employing an evolutionary, life history perspective, I examined the association between these hormonal levels and growth during infancy, with the hypothesis that linear growth and body composition would be mediated in sex-specific ways by differences in hormonal levels and would be responsive to feeding style and other characteristics of the maternal-infant environment.

My current research, in collaboration with Linda Adair and Peggy Bentley at the Carolina Population Center, explores dietary and maternal parenting style characteristics that contribute to rapid early weight gain and the creation of an “obesogenic” environment among African-American mothers and infants in North Carolina. Secondly, I am working with Linda Adair and Kay Lund on a molecular biological analysis of the intestinal microflora of infants as they transition from breastmilk to formula and solid-food diets. This research tests the hypothesis that early diet can contribute to the development of altered intestinal microfloral environments, metabolic differences and later-life obesity risk.

Publications:
Thompson, AL, MA Mendez, JB Borja, LS Adair, CR Zimmer, and ME Bentley (2009) “Development and validation of the Infant Feeding Style Questionnaire.” Appetite, 53(2): 210-221.

Lampl M and AL Thompson (2007) “Growth chart curves do not describe individual growth biology.” American Journal of Human Biology, 19(5): 643-653.

Lampl M, AL Thompson, and EA Frongillo (2005) “Sex differences in the relationships among weight gain, subcutaneous skinfolds and saltatory length growth spurts in infancy” Pediatric Research. 58(6): 1238-1242.

Awards:
Center for Excellence in Children’s Nutrition Small Grants Program (sponsored by Mead Johnson)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, “Infant Feeding, Growth and the Development of the Intestinal Microbiota in the first 15 months.”

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