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Nicole Avena, Ph.D.

Nicole Avena, Ph.D.Specialties: Diet, nutrition, addiction, weight loss, obesity, health eating for kids and during pregnancy
Home base: New York City
Web site: drnicoleavena.com

Dr. Nicole Avena is a research neuroscientist/psychologist and expert in the fields of nutrition, diet and addiction. She is a faculty member at the New York Obesity Research Center/Columbia University, where she conducts research on how our brains and psychological processes influence what we eat, and how we can use this information to make positive changes in our diet. She is also a pioneer in the field of food addiction, and it was her seminal research work that jump started this exciting new field of exploration in medicine and nutrition.

Dr. Avena received a Ph.D. in Psychology and Neuroscience from Princeton University in 2006. She then completed her postdoctoral fellowship in 2010 at the prestigious Rockefeller University in New York City, an all-research institution that lays claim to having had 24 Nobel Prize winners on its staff over the years.

She has published more than 60 scholarly journal articles and one academic book (Animal Models of Eating Disorders, Springer-HumanaWhy Diets Fail book jacket Press, 2013) on topics related to diet, nutrition and overeating, and she frequently presents her research findings at scientific conferences and University symposia. Her research achievements have been honored by awards from several groups including the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Psychological Association, and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. She has received research funding from prestigious sources, including the National Institutes of Health and the National Eating Disorders Association.
Dr. Avena’s first trade book, Why Diets Fail (Ten Speed Press, 2014) reviews the research on food addiction and provides a way in which people can remove added sugars and carbohydrates from their diet. Dr. Avena is a sought-after speaker, and she has been lauded by her colleagues and the public for her ability to explain complex scientific principles and research findings to a lay audience. Dr. Avena regularly makes public speaking appearances to discuss her research and discoveries throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. She speaks to special-interest groups, industry groups, and schools.

Dr. Avena has been identified as an expert in diet research by Psychology Today and has a blog featured on their website titled Food Junkie, which explains relevant research findings in an accessible way. You can also follow her on Twitter or Facebook.

Suggested Topics

  • Food Addiction and Obesity
    A lecture that describes how highly-caloric and palatable foods hijack the reward system in the brain, which can result in excessive overeating and obesity that is resistant to traditional dieting. This lecture also suggests ways to avoid and recover from food addiction.

  • The Psychology of Healthy Eating
    A lecture on the psychological principles (emotional, social and cognitive) that underlie eating behavior, and how in our modern society psychology can easily (and often unknowingly) lead us to eat in ways that are unhealthy. An understanding of this process will allow individuals to avoid unhealthy eating patterns, and more sensible food choices.

  • Raising Children to Eat Right
    A valuable lecture for parents, teachers and kids that helps understand the nature of unhealthy eating among children. Despite coaxing and education, many kids still prefer to eat unhealthy food. This lecture explains the dangers of obesity in youth into adulthood, and explores some of the common psychological and nutritional mistakes that parents make raising their children that can inadvertently promote unhealthy eating, and offer solutions on how to fix them. This lecture could also be modified and targeted toward children/teens.

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