Cristiane S. Duarte

Cristiane S. Duarte

Cristiane S.



Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology
Columbia University Medical Center

Professional Bio

Dr. Duarte is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Columbia University. Her research is focused on understanding the relationship between child mental health and factors of high social impact, such as childhood obesity, exposure to large-scale disasters, cultural context or service system structure.

Dr. Duarte is particularly intestested in improving knowledge about disadvantaged groups. She has focused on Latino populations, addressing mental health issues relevant to youth based either in the US (e.g., acculturation and service use) or in Latin America (e.g., access to mental health services).

Dr. Duarte is the principal investigator in a study funded by NICHD about the impact of maternal depression on childhood obesity. She is also co-investigator in longitudinal epidemiological studies of children whose parents are First Responders, children whose mothers have been involved with the criminal justice system and Puerto Rican children living in two different contexts.

To pursue her research, Dr. Duarte has received federal funds as well as two awards from the National Alliance for Research in Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD). She is part of the first cohort of grantees supported by New Connections.

Project Description

Background: This project responds to the concern of the Childhood Obesity Team about the impact of the built environment on obesity. Successful obesity prevention models involving the built environment should be based on knowledge about mechanisms through which the built environment may shape health and behavior early in life. Specific Aims: (I) Examine whether characteristics of the urban built environment are associated with overweight in early childhood; (II) Verify if characteristics of the built environment contribute to racial/ethnic weight disparities in early childhood; and (III) Determine the extent to which the possible association between the built environment and overweight in early childhood can be explained by maternal depression. Research Question/Hypotheses: Is the built environment related to overweight in children at 36 months? How do parental perceptions of safety and community collective efficacy contribute to this relationship? What are the roles of unhealthy eating habits and sedentary behavior? Do built environment differences help to explain racial/ethnic disparities in early childhood overweight? Is maternal depression part of the association between built environment and overweight in early childhood? Methods: (a) Study design and setting: Secondary data analysis focused on the third wave (N=2,119 in-home interviews) of The Fragile Families Study. (b) Measures Main outcome: Measured child height and weight transformed to BMI-for-age-gender. Main independent variable: External and internal built environment based on interviewer’s observation and parental information access to healthy grocery shopping. Mediators/Moderators: Parental perception of neighborhood safety and collective efficacy, child’s eating habits, sedentary behavior and maternal depression. (c) Data Analysis: Descriptive and bivariate analysis will be conducted. Multiple regression models (logistic or linear) and structural equation analysis will be used to examine mediation and moderation hypotheses.

The Details
  • Award Year: 2008
  • RWJF Team/Portfolio: Childhood Obesity
  • Project Name: Built Environment and Overweight in Early Childhood: Understanding Disparities and Key Mechanisms

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