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Widen, Elizabeth

Beth Widen

Assistant Professor
Department of Nutritional Sciences, School of Human Ecology

Amy Johnson McLaughlin Administrative Chair in Human Ecology | Amy Johnson McLaughlin Centennial Professorship in Home Economics


Phone: 512-232-1580

Office Location
PAI 5.32

Dr. Beth Widen is a Registered Dietitian and Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin in the Department of Nutritional Sciences within the School of Human Ecology in the College of Natural Sciences. Widen is faculty at Dell Pediatric Research Institute, faculty research associate at the Population Research Center, and affiliate faculty in the Departments of Women’s Health and Pediatrics at Dell Medical School. Widen is a nutritional and perinatal epidemiologist and her research takes a life course approach at the intersection of nutrition, perinatal, and pediatric epidemiology, and human biology. She develops and applies advanced analytic methods and interdisciplinary approaches to rigorously evaluate the role of nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life in relation to short and long-term health of mothers and their children.

Widen's research is funded by a K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, and grants from the National Cattlemen's Beef Association and the Egg Nutrition Center. She has received many accolades including an Early Career Award from the Thrasher Research Fund.

Widen holds a BS in Dietetics from Miami University, and a PhD in Nutritional Epidemiology from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to completing her PhD, Widen was an Intramural Research Training Award Fellow at the National Institutes of Health. Following her PhD, she completed an interdisciplinary postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University in the Institute of Human Nutrition and the Department of Epidemiology. 



Dr. Widen's research program applies an interdisciplinary life course approach to the intersection of nutrition sciences with reproductive, perinatal, pediatric and nutritional epidemiology. The goal of Dr. Widen's research is to develop and apply advanced analytic methods and interdisciplinary approaches to rigorously evaluate the role of nutrition during the first 1,000 days of life on short and long-term health.

Widen leads a nutritional phenotyping pregnancy cohort study, Mother Infant NutriTion Study (MINT), and is Co-PI of Mothers and CAreGivers Investing in Children (MAGIC), a mother-caregiver-infant feeding intervention program among low-income English and/or Spanish speaking families that focuses on healthy eating during infancy and responsive caregiving. In addition, she leads several other projects focused on maternal and child nutrition among high-risk populations, including examining pregnancy outcomes among women with twin gestations and women with obesity, and investigating maternal and offspring body composition among HIV-exposed and unexposed dyads in Kenya and Uganda. 

Asim M*, Ahmed Z, Nichols A*, Rickman R*, Neiterman E, Mahmood A*, Widen E. What stops us from eating: A qualitative investigation of dietary barriers during pregnancy in Punjab, Pakistan. Public Health Nutrition, 1-10. doi:10.1017/S1368980021001737

Whyte K, Johnson J, Kelly K, Horowitz M, Widen E, Toro-Ramos T, Gidwani S, Paley C, Crane J, Lin S, Rosenn B, Thornton J, Pi-Synyer FX, Gallagher D. No sustained effects of an intervention to prevent excessive GWG on offspring body composition at 54 weeks. Pediatric Obesity. 2021;e12767. https://doi.org/10.1111/ijpo.12767

Lane C, Widen E, Collins S, Young S. HIV-exposed, uninfected infants in Uganda experience poorer growth and body composition trajectories than HIV-unexposed infants. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2020 Jun 24. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000002428.

Asim M*, Nazaw Y, Hayward M, Widen E. Prelacteal Feeding Practices in Pakistan: A Mixed-Methods Study. Int Breastfeed J. 2020 Jun 8;15(1):53. doi: 10.1186/s13006-020-00295-8.

Janumala I, Toro-Ramos T, Widen E, Rosenn B, Crane J, Horowitz M, Lin S, Gidwani S, Paley C, Thornton J, Pi-Sunyer X, Gallagher D. Increased visceral adipose tissue without weight retention at 59 weeks postpartum. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2020 Feb 6; doi: 10.1002/oby.22736.

Tuthill E, Miller J, Collins S, Widen E, Onono M, Young S. HIV Infection, Hunger, Breastfeeding Self-efficacy, and Depressive Symptoms are Associated with Exclusive Breastfeeding to 6 months Among Women in Western Kenya: A Longitudinal Observational Study. Int Breastfeed J. 2020 Jan 16;15(1):4.

Widen E, Nichols A*, Kahn L, Factor-Litvak P, Insel B, Hoepner L, Dube S, Rauh V, Perera F, Rundle A. Prepregnancy obesity is associated with cognitive outcomes in boys in a low-income, multiethnic birth cohort. BMC Pediatr. 2019 Dec 20;19(1):507.

Heshka S, Lemos T, Astbury N, Widen E, Davidson L, Goodpaster B, DeLany J, Strain G, Pomp A, Courcoulas A, Lin S, Janumala I, Yu W, Kang P, Thornton J, Gallagher D. Resting energy expenditure and organ-tissue body composition five years after bariatric surgery. Obes Surg. 2019 Oct 15. doi: 10.1007/s11695-019-04217-4

Nichols A*, Insel B, Rundle A, Hoepner L, Factor-Litvak P, Ruah V, Perera F, Widen E. Maternal prepregnancy overweight and obesity are associated with lower psychomotor development scores in boys at age 3. J Dev Orig Health Dis. Sept 2019. doi: 10.1017/S2040174419000412

Rundle A, Gallagher D, Herbstman J, Goldsmith J, Holmes D, Hassoun A, Oberfield S, Miller R, Andrews H, Widen E, Hoepner L, Perera F. Prenatal Exposure to Airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Childhood Growth Trajectories from Age 5 to 14 Years. Environ Res. 2019 Jul 19;177:108595.

Vandyousefi S, Whaley S, Widen E, Asigbee F, Landry M, Ghaddar R, Davis J. Association of Breastfeeding and Early Exposure to Sugar-Sweetened Beverages with Obesity Prevalence in Offspring born to Mothers with and without Gestational Diabetes Mellitus. Pediatr Obes. 2019 Dec;14(12):e12569.

Kahn L, Widen E, Straka N, Liu X, Cirillo P, Cohn B, Buck-Louis G, Factor-Litvak P. The relationship of birth weight and adiposity across the life course to semen quality in middle age: results from the Study of the Environment and Reproduction follow-up to the Child Health and Development Studies. 2019 Nov;30 Suppl 2:S17-S27.

Wilkes M, Thornton J, Horlick M, Sopher A, Wang J, Widen E, Pierson R, Gallagher D. Relationship of BMIZ score to fat percent and fat mass in multiethnic prepubertal children. Pediatr Obes 2019 Jan;14(1).

Widen E, Tsai I*, Collins S, Wekesa P, China J, Krumdieck N, Miller J, Weiser S, Onono M, Young S. HIV-infection is associated with adverse changes in body composition during pregnancy and lactation among Kenyan women. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2019 Mar;73(3):474-482.

Davidson L, Yu W, Goodpaster B, DeLany J, Widen E, Lemos T, Strain G, Pomp A, Courcoulas A, Lin S, Janumala I, Thornton J, Gallagher D. Fat-free mass and skeletal muscle mass five years after bariatric surgery. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2018 Jul;26(7):1130-1136.

Familiar I, Collins S*, Sikorskii A, Ruisenor-Escudero R, Natamba B, Bangirana P, Widen EM, Achidri D, Achola H, Onen D, Boivin M, Young SL. Quality of caregiving is positively associated with neurodevelopment during the first year of life among HIV-exposed uninfected children in Uganda. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2018 Mar 1;77(3):235-242

Widen E, Kahn L, Cirillo P, Cohn B, Kezios K, Factor-Litvak P. Prepregnancy obesity is associated with impaired child neurodevelopment. Matern Child Nutr. 2018 Jan;14(1)

Widen E, Collins S*, Khan H*, Biribawa C, Achidri D, Achoko W, Ghosh S, Griffiths J, Achola H, Young S. Food insecurity, but not HIV infection status, is associated with adverse changes in body composition during lactation among Ugandan women of mixed HIV status. Am J Clin Nutr 2017 Feb; 105(2): 361-368 .

Hoepner L, Whyatt R, Widen E, Diurka D, Calafat A, Perera F, Rundle R. Bisphenol A and Adiposity in an Inner-City Birth Cohort. Environ Health Perspect. 2016 Oct;124(10):1644-1650

Widen E, Whyatt R, Hoepner L, Ramirez-Carvey J, Oberfield S, Hassoun A, Perera F, Gallagher D, Rundle A. Gestational weight gain and obesity, adiposity and body size in African American and Dominican children in the Bronx and Northern Manhattan. Matern Child Nutr. 2016 Oct;12(4):918-28.

Widen E, Whyatt R, Hoepner L, Ramirez-Carvey J, Mueller N, Oberfield S, Hassoun A, Perera F, Gallagher D, Rundle A. Excessive gestational weight gain is associated with long-term weight retention and body fat at seven years postpartum among African-American and Dominican mothers with underweight, normal and overweight prepregnancy BMI. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Dec;102(6):1460-7.

Widen E, Factor-Litvak P, Gallagher D, Paxton A, Pierson R, Heymsfield S, Lederman S. The pattern of gestational weight gain is associated with changes in maternal body composition and neonatal size. Matern Child Health J. 2015 Oct;19(10):2286-94.

Widen E, Bentley M, Chasela C, Kayira D, Flax V, Kourtis A, Ellington S, Kacheche Z, Tegha G, Jamieson D, van der Horst C, Allen L, Shahab-Ferdows S, Adair L for the BAN Study Team. Antiretroviral prophylaxis is associated with iron deficiency that is mitigated with supplementation in HIV-infected Malawian women, but is not associated with infant iron deficiency. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2015 Jul 1;69(3):319-28.

Mueller NT, Whyatt R, Hoepner L, Oberfield S, Dominguez-Bello M, Widen E, Hassoun A, Perera F, Rundle A. Prenatal exposure to antibiotics, cesarean section, and risk of childhood obesity. Int J Obes (Lond). 2015 Apr;39(4):665-70.

Widen E, Gallagher D. Body composition changes in pregnancy: measurement, predictors and outcomes. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014 Jun;68(6):643-52.

Widen E, Strain G, King W, Yu W, Lin S, Goodpaster B, Thornton J, Courcoulas A, Pomp A, Gallagher D. Validity of bioelectrical impedance analysis for measuring changes in body water and percent fat after bariatric surgery. Obes Surg. 2014 Jun;24(6):847-54.

Widen E, Bentley M, Kayira D, Chasela C, Daza E, Kacheche Z, Tegha G, Jamieson D, Kourtis A, van der Horst C, Allen L, Shahab-Ferdows S, Adair L for the BAN Study Team. Changes in soluble transferrin receptor and hemoglobin concentrations in Malawian mothers are associated with those values in their exclusively breastfed, HIV-exposed infants. J Nutr. 2014 Mar;144(3):367-74.

Widen E, Bentley M, Kayira D, Chasela C, Jamieson D, Tembo M, Soko A, Kourtis A, Flax V, Ellington S, van der Horst C, Adair L on behalf of the BAN Study team. Maternal weight loss during exclusive breastfeeding is associated with reduced weight and length gain in daughters of HIV-infected Malawian women. J Nutr. 2013 Jul;143(7):1168-75.

Widen E, Siega-Riz AM. Perinatal Nutrition: A practical guide to assess and counsel women on diet. J Midwifery Womens Health. 2010 Nov-Dec;55(6):540-549.

*Indicates mentored student or postdoctoral trainee.

K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award, 2016-2022, NIH/NICHD K99HD086304

Best Paper in Obesity Research 2015, Science Unbound Foundation

Thrasher Research Fund Early Career Award, 2016-2020

Obesity Research Postdoctoral Training Award, 2015-2016, NIH/NIDDK T32DK007559

Interdisciplinary Nutrition and Population Health Postdoctoral Training Award, 2012-2014, NIH/NIDDK T32DK091227

Gerber Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship, 2011, American Society for Nutrition

Graduate School Fellowship in Science and Technology,  2008-2009, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

NTR 315, Nutrition through the Lifecycle

NTR 337, Principles of Epidemiology in Nutritional Sciences