Carolyn Gunther

Associate Professor, Department of Human Sciences

Program Area: Human Nutrition

(614) 292-5125


Carolyn Gunther is an associate professor of human nutrition at The Ohio State University in the Department of Human Sciences. She also serves as a state specialist (Extension) and clinical associate professor of pediatrics (Wexner Medical Center). Gunther received her PhD from Purdue University in nutritional sciences and served as director of research in the College of Education and Human Ecology prior to joining the Ohio State faculty.

Professor Gunther’s research program is dedicated to discovering new knowledge surrounding one of today’s most pressing nutrition-related public health issues – overweight and obesity among underserved children and youth. Through observational and intervention research, her team is investigating the behavioral and environmental factors, both protective and detrimental, that influence a child’s risk for obesity. Findings generated from her work have direct implications in federal and state policy and programmatic reform. Gunther has authored or co-authored more than 30 peer-reviewed journal articles in this area of inquiry, and her research is supported by competitive grants from the public and private sector.

Gunther has received a number of prestigious awards honoring her professional accomplishments. Most recently, she was named the 2019 Faculty Fellow by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation. In addition, she has held elected leadership positions in her professional societies. For instance, she is the 2019-20 Chair of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior’s Journal Committee. She also serves on the board of editors for the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 


  • Dietetic Internship, The Ohio State University, 2020
  • PhD, Nutritional Sciences, Purdue University, 2004
  • BA, Biology, Taylor University, 1995

Research Interests

Research Summary

  • Family meals in economically disadvantaged populations
  • Unhealthy summer weight gain in school age children residing in low-income households


  • 2019 - Faculty Fellow, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation
  • 2016 - Distinguished Alumni Award (“110 Diamonds”), Department of Nutrition Science, Purdue University
  • 2016 - Diversity Fellow, College of Education and Human Ecology, Office of Diversity and Inclusion, The Ohio State University
  • 2014 - Reviewer of Excellence Award, Journal of Nutritional Education and Behavior
  • 2013 - Distinguished Undergraduate Research Mentor Award, The Ohio State University

Selected Publications

  • Banna J, Richards R, Jones B, Anderson A, Reicks M, Cluskey M, Gunther C, Hongu N, Lora K, Misner S, Monroe-Lord L, Topham G, Wong SS, Lim E. Describing Independent Eating Occasions Among Low-Income Adolescents Ages 10-13 in the US: A Multi-State Study. Accepted at IJERPH.
  • Gunther C, Rogers C, Holloman C, Hopkins LC, Anderson SE, Miller CK, Copeland KA, Dollahite JS, Pratt KJ, Labyk A, Webster A, Labyk A, Penicka C. (2019) Child diet and health outcomes of the simple suppers program: a 10-week, 2-group quasi-experimental family meals trial. BMC Public Health. 19:1657.
  • Reicks M, Banna J, Anderson A, Da Silva V, Gunther C, Hongu NK, Jones B, Lora K, Monroe-Lord L, Richards R, Topham G, Wong SS. Development of parent and adolescent questionnaires to assess food parenting practices that address adolescent intake during independent eating occasions. J Nutr Educ Behav. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Gunther C, Reicks M, Banna J, et al. (2019) Practices that parents use to influence early adolescents’ food choices during independent eating occasions from parent and child perspectives. J Nutr Educ Behav. 51:993-1002.
  • Williams RA, Rose AM, Bruno RS, Kennel JA, Hanks AS, McDonald JD, Labyk AN, Gunther C. (2019) Examination of the relationship of diet quality with cardiometabolic risk factors in apparently healthy college students. J Educ Health Promot. 8:148
  • Hopkins LC, Webster A, Kennel JA, Purtell K, Gunther C. (2019) Youth Mentor Dietary Outcomes and Waist Circumference Improve: Camp NERF Study Findings. Health Promot Pract. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Reicks M, Davey C, Anderson AK, Banna J, Cluskey M, Gunther C, Jones B, Richards R, Topham G, Wong SS. (2019) Frequency of Eating Alone among Adolescents is Associated with Dietary Intake, Perceived Parent Support and Weight Status: Cross-sectional FLASHE Study Results. Public Health Nutr. 22:1555-1566.
  • Hopkins LC, Holloman C, Melnyk B, Fristad M, Goodway JD, Kennel JA, Eneli I, Gunther C. (2019) Participation in structured programming may prevent unhealthy weight gain during the summer in school-aged children from low-income neighborhoods: feasibility, fidelity and preliminary efficacy findings from the Camp NERF study. Public Health Ntr. 3:1-13.
  • Hatsu I, Gunther C, Hade E, Vandergraff S, Slesnick N, Williams R, Bruno RS, Kennel K. (2019) Unaccompanied Homeless Youth have Extremely Poor Diet Quality and Nutrition Status. Int J Adolesc Youth. 24:319-332.
  • Hanks AS, Gunther C, Lillard D, Scharff R. (2019) Data providing detailed county level information for eWIC roll out in Ohio. Data Brief. 24:103955.
  • Hopkins LC, Fristad M, Goodway JD, Eneli I, Holloman C, Kennel JA, Melnyk B, Webster A, Sharn A, Gunther C. (2018) Feasibility and Acceptability of Technology-based Caregiver Engagement Strategies Delivered in a Summertime Childhood Obesity Prevention Intervention: results from the Camp NERF (Nutrition, Education, Recreation, and Fitness) study. Pilot Feasibility Stud. 4:153.
  • Hanks AS, Gunther C, Lillard D, Scharff RL. (2018) From Paper to Plastic: Understanding the Impact of eWIC on WIC Recipient Behavior. Food Policy.
  • Hopkins LC, Penicka C, Jones B, Evich CD, Gunther C. (2018) Project SWEAT (Summer Weight and Environmental Assessment Trial): study protocol of an observational study using a multistate, prospective design that examines the weight gain trajectory among a racially and ethnically diverse convenience sample of economically disadvantaged school-age children. BMJ Open. 8:e021168.
  • Rose A, Williams R, Gillis B, Kennel J, Gunther C. (2018) Determining attitudinal and behavioral factors concerning milk and dairy intake and their association with calcium intake in college students. Nutr Res Pract. 12:143-148.
  • Rose A, Kennel JA, Hanks A, Gunther C. (2018) Milk vending does not improve college students’ milk and calcium intakes. Health Promot Pract. 19:295-302.
  • Rose R, Seger J, Nurko I, Kennel J, Hanks A, Gunther C. (2017) Short-Term Campus-Based Dairy Campaign is Effective in Promoting Awareness of Importance of Calcium Intake in College Students. FFCI. 21:1.
  • Hopkins LC, Hooker N, Gunther C. (2017) Securing a Stop to the Summer Setback: Policy Considerations in the Future Potential Expansion of the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children. J Nutr Ed Behav. 49:692-699.e1
  • Rogers C, Anderson S, Dollahite J, Miller C, Pratt K, Gunther C. Methods and Design of a 10-Week Multi-Component Family Meals Intervention: a Two Group Quasi-Experimental Effectiveness Trial. (2017) BMC Public Health. 17:50. 
  • Martinez Y, Banna JC, Bellajos M, Bruhn C, Cluskey M, Gunther C, Hongu N, Johnston P, Misner S, Reicks M, Richards R, Wong SS. (2016) Evaluation of messages to promote intake of calcium-rich foods in early adolescents. Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship. 9:110-120.
  • Hopkins LC, Fristad M, Goodway JD, Eneli I, Holloman C, Kennel JA, Melnyk B, Gunther C. (2016) Camp NERF: Methods of a theory-based nutrition education recreation and fitness program aimed at preventing unhealthy weight gain in underserved elementary children during summer months. BMC Public Health.16:1-12.     
  • Banna J, Reicks M, Gunther C, Bruhn B, Cluskey M, Richards R, Wong SS, Misner S, Hongu N, Johnston NP. (2016) Perceived effects of emotion-based messages on motivation of Hispanic and Asian parents of early adolescents to engage in calcium-rich food and beverage parenting practices. Nutr Res Pract. 10:456-463. 
  • Reicks M, Banna J, Cluskey M, Gunther C, Hongu NK, Richards R, Topham G, Wong SS. (2015) Influence of parenting practices on eating behaviors of early adolescents during independent eating occasions: implications for obesity prevention. Nutrients. 7:8783-8801.
  • Hopkins LC, Gunther C. (2015) A Historical Review of Changes in Nutrition Standards of USDA Child Meal Programs Relative to Research Findings on the Nutritional Adequacy of Program Meals and the Diet and Nutritional Health of Participants: Implications for Future Research and the Summer Food Service Program. Nutrients. 7:10145-10167.
  • Gunther C, Rose A, Bruhn C, Cluskey M, Reicks MM, Richards R, Wong SS, Boushey CJ, Misner S, Olson B. (2015) Parents’ Calcium Knowledge Is Associated with Parental Practices to Promote Calcium Intake among Parents of Early Adolescent Children. Journal of Extension [On-line], 53(4) Article 6IAW4. Available at:
  • Monnat LE, Kennel J, Holloman C, Kaye G, Gunther C. (2014) Determining the feasibility of milk vending machines to improve calcium intake among college students. Journal of Human Sciences and Extension. 2:1-14.
  • Richards R, Reicks M, Wong SS, Gunther C, Cluskey M, Ballejos M, Bruhn C, Johnston NP, Misner S, Watters C. (2014) Identification of parental benefits derived from practices that promote intake of calcium-rich foods and beverages among early adolescent children. J Nutr Educ Behav. 46:595-601.
  • Rose A, Wagner A, Kennel J, Pennywitt J, Battista-Hesse M, Miller C, Murray R, Rogers K, Gunther C. (2014) Determining the feasibility and acceptability of a nutrition education and cooking program for preschoolers and their families delivered over the dinner hour in a low-income day care setting. ICAN: Infant, Child, and Adolescent Nutrition. 6:144-151.
  • Failla M, Gunther C. (2013) Feeding the development of underrepresented groups. International Innovation: Healthcare, August 2013 (Research Media, UK, pp 45-47), ISSN 2051-8501. 
  • Gunther C, Branscum P, Kennel JA, Klein E, Monnat L, Kaye G. (2013) Examination of the Relationship of Dairy Product Consumption and Dietary Calcium with Body Mass Index Percentile in Children. International Journal of Child Health and Nutrition. 2:1-8.
  • Reicks M, Degeneffe D, Ghosh K, Bruhn C, Goodell SL, Gunther C, Auld G, Ballejos M, Boushey C, Cluskey M, Misner S, Olson B, Wong SS, Zaghloul S. (2012) Parent calcium-rich-food practices/perceptions are associated with calcium intake among parents and their early adolescent children. Public Health Nutr 15:331-340. 
  • Reicks MM, Ballejos ME, Goodell SL, Gunther C, Richards R, Wong SS, Auld G, Boushey CJ, Bruhn C, Cluskey M, Misner S, Olson B, Zaghloul S. (2011) Personal and family correlates of calcium-rich food intake among parents of early adolescent children. J Am Diet Assoc. 111:376-384. 
  • Teegarden D, Gunther CW. (2008) Can the controversial relationship between dietary calcium and body weight be mechanistically explained by alterations in appetite and food intake? Nutr Rev. 66:601-605. 
  • Eagan MS, Lyle RM, Gunther CW, Peacock M, Teegarden D. (2006) Effect of 1-Year dairy product intervention on fat mass in young women: 6-month follow-up. Obesity. 14:2242-8.
  • Gunther CW, Legowski PA, Lyle RM, Weaver CM, McCabe LD, McCabe GP, Peacock M,Teegarden D. (2006) Parathyroid hormone is associated with decreased fat mass in young healthy women. Int J Obes (Lond). 30:94-99. 
  • Gunther CW, Lyle RM, Legowski PA, James JM, McCabe LD, McCabe GP, Peacock M, Teegarden D. (2005) Fat oxidation and its relation to serum parathyroid hormone in young women enrolled in a 1-y dairy calcium intervention. Am J Clin Nutr 82:1228-34. 
  • Teegarden D, Legowski P, Gunther CW, McCabe GP, Peacock M, Lyle RM. (2005) Dietary calcium intake protects women consuming oral contraceptives from spine and hip bone loss. J Clin Endocr Metab. 90:5127-33. 
  • Gunther CW, Legowski PA, Lyle RM, McCabe GP, Eagan MS, Peacock M, Teegarden D. (2005) Dairy products do not lead to alterations in body weight or fat mass in young women in a 1-y intervention. Am J Clin Nutr. 81:751-6.
  • Cohen MB, Giannella RA, Losonsky GA, Lang DR, Parker S, Hawkins JA, Gunther C, Schiff GA. (1999) Validation and characterization of a human volunteer challenge model for cholera by using frozen bacteria of the new Vibrio cholerae epidemic serotype, O139. Infect Immun. 67:6346-9.