Department of Urban-Global Public Health
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.
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.
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.
Associate Editor, BMC Public Health
Associate Editor, Behavioral Medicine
Thow AM, Downs SM, Mayes C, Trevena H, Waqanivalu T, Cawley J. Fiscal policy to improve diets and prevent non-communicable diseases: from recommendations to action. WHO Bulletin 96, no. 3 (2018): 201.
Downs SM, Bloem MZ, Zheng M, Catterall E, Thomas B, Veerman L, Wu JH. The impact of policies to reduce trans fat consumption: A systematic review of the evidence. Current Developments in Nutrition, 2017; pp.cdn-117.
Downs S, Payne A, Fanzo J. The development and application of a sustainable diets framework for policy analysis: A case study of Nepal. Food Policy 2017; 70: 40-49.
Downs S, Christoforou A, Snowdon W, Dunford E, Hoesjkov P, Legetic B, Campbell N, Webster J. Setting targets for salt levels in foods: a five-step approach for low- and middle-income countries. Food Policy 2015;55:101-108.
Downs S, Thow AM, Ghosh-Jerath S, Leeder SR. The feasibility of multisectoral policy options aimed at reducing trans fats and encouraging their replacement with healthier oils in India. Health Policy and Planning 2015;30(4):474-484.
Downs S. (2016). The multiple burdens of malnutrition: Food system drivers and solutions. Sight and Life, 30(1):41-46.
Downs S & Fanzo J. (2016). Managing Value Chains for Improved Nutrition. Good Nutrition: Perspectives for the 21st Century.
Thow AM, Downs S, Jan S. A systematic review of the effectiveness of food taxes and subsidies to improve diets: understanding the recent evidence. Nutrition Reviews 2014;72(9):551-565.
Downs S, Thow AM, Leeder SR. The effectiveness of policies for reducing trans fat: A systematic review of the evidence. World Health Organization Bulletin 2013;91:262-269.
Downs S, Thow AM, Ghosh-Jerath S, McNab J, Reddy KS, Leeder SR. From Denmark to Delhi: the multisectoral challenge of regulating trans fats in India. Public Health Nutrition 2012; 20:1-8.
Emerging Leader in Nutrition Sciences Hot Topics in Policy Poster Award Winner, Experimental Biology Conference, 2017.
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Canadian Institutes of Health Research, 2014-2017.
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