Latest NewsThe GRE requirement for our MPH program is waived for applicants looking to start in the Fall 2020 semester. Learn more.

Health Behavior, Society & Policy

Faculty Profile

  • Shauna Downs, PhD, MS

  • Assistant Professor

  • Department of Health Behavior, Society and Policy

  • CV

Food policy; value chains; sustainable diets; food environments.

Dr. Downs is an Assistant Professor in the Rutgers University School of Public Health, Department of Health Systems and Policy. She received a Bachelor of Science from the University of Calgary and a Master's of Science in Nutrition and Metabolism from the University of Alberta, Canada. She conducted her PhD in public health at the Menzies Centre for Health Policy at the University of Sydney, Australia. Before coming to Rutgers, she was an Earth Institute Postdoctoral Fellow at Columbia University and a Hecht-Levi Fellow at Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. 

Research Interests
Dr. Downs' research focuses on three main areas: 1) the impact and implementation of policies and interventions aimed at improving diets, 2) the mapping of food environments and their influence on food choice, and 3) sustainable food systems. She conducts research in India, Senegal, Myanmar, Kenya, Canada and New York City using mixed-methods approaches. Her current studies focus on the economic, health and environmental trade-offs of palm oil production and consumption in Myanmar; mapping food environments and strengthening African indigenous vegetable value chains in Nairobi slums; and promoting the sustainable consumption of animal sourced foods in the US.

Research Highlights

Examination of the implementation of food policies (e.g., trans fat bans, sodium warnings, etc.) aimed at improving diets.

Characterization food environments in low- and middle-income countries.

Use of value chain analysis to identify points for intervening to improve the quality of the food supply.

Impact evaluations to examine interventions and policies aimed at improving the availability, affordability and acceptability of nutritious foods.

Select Publications
Thow, A., Downs, S., Mayes, C., Trevena, H., Waqanivalu, T., Cawley, J. (2018) "Fiscal policy to improve diets and prevent noncommunicable diseases: from recommendations to action.", Bulletin of the World Health Organization Vol. 96

Downs, S. M., Payne, A., Fanzo, J. (2017) "The development and application of a sustainable diets framework for policy analysis: A case study of Nepal", Food Policy Vol. 70

Downs, S., Bloem, M., Zheng, M., Catterall, E., Thomas, B., Veerman, L., Wu, J. (2017) "The Impact of Policies to Reduce trans Fat Consumption: A Systematic Review of the Evidence.", Current developments in nutrition Vol. 1

Downs, S. M., Fanzo, J. (2016) "", Managing Value Chains for Improved Nutrition. Good Nutrition: Perspectives for the 21st Century Vol. 0

Downs, S. M. (2016) "The multiple burdens of malnutrition", Sight Life Vol. 30

Downs, S. M., Thow, A., Ghosh-Jerath, S., Leeder, S. R. (2015) "The feasibility of multisectoral policy options aimed at reducing trans fats and encouraging its replacement with healthier oils in India", Health Policy and Planning Vol. 30

Downs, S. M., Christoforou, A., Snowdon, W., Dunford, E., Hoejskov, P., Legetic, B., Campbell, N., Webster, J. (2015) "Setting targets for salt levels in foods: A five-step approach for low- and middle-income countries", Food Policy Vol. 55

Thow, A., Downs, S. M., Jan, S. (2014) "A systematic review of the effectiveness of food taxes and subsidies to improve diets: understanding the recent evidence.", Nutrition reviews Vol. 72

Downs, S. M., Thow, A., Ghosh-Jerath, S., McNab, J., Reddy, K., Leeder, S. (2013) "From Denmark to Delhi: the multisectoral challenge of regulating trans fats in India.", Public health nutrition Vol. 16

Downs, S. M., Thow, A., Leeder, S. (2013) "The effectiveness of policies for reducing dietary trans fat: a systematic review of the evidence.", Bulletin of the World Health Organization Vol. 91

Scholarly Activities
Associate Editor, Behavioral Medicine

Associate Editor, BMC Public Health

Emerging Leader in Nutrition Sciences Hot Topics in Policy Poster Award Winner - Experimental Biology Conference (2017) - Experimental Biology is the annual meeting of five Host Societies. Emerging Leader in Nutrition Sciences Hot Topics in Policy Poster Award recognizes excellence in the field.

Postdoctoral Fellowship - Canadian Institutes of Health Research (2014) - Postdoctoral Fellowships program provides funding to the very best postdoctoral applicants, both nationally and internationally, who will positively contribute to the country's economic, social and research-based growth.

Social Media & Websites