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Valisa E. Hedrick, PhD, RDN

Associate Professor
  • Director, Dietary Assessment Laboratory
  • Focus area(s): Dietary intake and health; dietary assessment methodology; non-nutritive sweeteners; evaluation of nutrition intervention programs
A Virginia Tech HNFE faculty member inside a campus building for a headshot.
335A Wallace
  • Graduate Program Track(s): Behavioral & Community Science; Clinical Physiology & Metabolism


Ph.D., Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, Virginia Tech, 2011

Preparing the Future Professoriate, Graduate Certificate, Virginia Tech, 2009

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Commission on Dietetic Registration, 2007

B.S., Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, concentration in Dietetics, Virginia Tech, 2006


2023 – present: Associate Professor, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

2014 – 2023: Assistant Professor, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

2012 – 2014: Postdoctoral Scholar, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA

2012 – 2014: Adjunct Professor, Department of Physical Education and Health, Virginia Western Community College, Roanoke, VA

2012 – 2014: Research Dietitian, JSI Research and Training Institute, Inc., Boston, MA

2010 – 2011: Clinical Dietitian, Heritage Hall Nursing and Rehabilitation, Blacksburg, VA

2005 – 2008: Director of Clinical Services, Skyline Manor Nursing and Rehab, Floyd, VA

Selected Major Awards

  • 2023 – Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) Evaluation Award. PI: Sarah Misyak, CO-I's: Valisa Hedrick and Elena Serrano, $1,000
  • 2022, 2021 – Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise nominee for the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Outstanding Faculty Graduate Student Mentor Award
  • 2021 – Published journal article, “Update of the BEVQ-15, a beverage intake questionnaire for habitual beverage intake for adults: determining comparative validity and reproducibility”, in Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics was identified as one of the journal’s top cited papers 
  • 2017 – First Author Award for the journal article, “Dietary quality changes in response to a sugar-sweetened beverage–reduction intervention: results from the Talking Health randomized controlled clinical trial”, published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Research Dietetic Practice Group, Presented at the Annual meeting of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Chicago, IL
  • 2016 – Young Investigator Travel Award, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) Short Course: Strengthening Causal Inference in Behavioral Obesity Research, University of Alabama at Birmingham, $1,000

Program Focus

My research program contributes to the mission of Extension through dissemination and implementation of novel dietary assessment tools to help determine the effectiveness of nutritional intervention programs in underserved populations. Specifically, in this role I am part of the program evaluation team, where statewide SNAP-Ed program effectiveness for various dietary outcomes is assessed.

For example, the BEVQ-15 that I developed, is now a required dietary assessment tool for SNAP-Ed, and is used to measure key indicators of program effectiveness related to beverage consumption. As an example of assessment at an environmental level, I co-led the development and multi-state testing of the Market Basket Assessment Tool.

This tool allows SNAP-Ed implementing agencies to determine if the availability of foods and beverages sold in food retail establishments is in line with the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, and can be used to detect changes in food environment quality post healthy food retail interventions.

Program Focus

The impact of non-nutritive sweetener (NNS) consumption (i.e., artificial sweeteners) on type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) risk is a current focus of my research program. The use of NNS as a replacement for added sugars is a common strategy for those with, or at risk for, T2DM. Currently, 70% of individuals with T2DM consume NNS on a daily basis. Yet, current T2DM prevention recommendations on NNS usage are unclear and controversial, causing substantial confusion for consumers and healthcare providers.

Although the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) and the American Diabetes Association (ADA) suggest NNS use as a potential strategy to replace caloric sweeteners, long-term NNS usage is discouraged despite minimal research to support this recommendation. The DGA and ADA also stated that our understanding of the effects of NNS consumption on health outcomes and glycemic indices is limited, and that more research is needed to explore potential causal pathways.

I am currently conducting two NIH funded trials to determine the impact of four types of non-nutritive sweeteners (sucralose, aspartame, saccharin, and acesulfame potassium) on glycemic control in mid-life/older adults with prediabetes. This research is positioned to have significant effects on both clinical and public health by informing DGA and T2DM prevention and treatment guidelines regarding NNS usage.

Reviewed Journals

  • Hedrick VE, Nieto C, Grilo MF, and Sylvetsky AC. Non-sugar Sweeteners: Helpful or Harmful? The Challenge of Developing Intake Recommendations with the Available Research. Accepted for publication, British Medical Journal. 2023.
  • Hedrick VE, Farris AR, Houghtaling B, Mann G, and Misyak SA. Validity of a Market Basket Assessment Tool for Use in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Education Healthy Retail Initiatives. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2022 Aug;54(8):776-783. doi: 10.1016/j.jneb.2022.02.018.
  • Parker MK, Davy BD, and Hedrick VE. Preliminary Assessment of the Healthy Beverage Index for US Children and Adolescents: A Tool to Quantify the Overall Beverage Intake Quality of 2- to 19-Year Olds. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2022 Feb;122(2):371-383.e6.
  • Howes EM, Harden S, Cox HK, and Hedrick VE. Communicating About Weight in Dietetics Practice: Recommendations for Reduction of Weight Bias and Stigma. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2021;121(9):1669-1674.
  • Acero D, Zoellner JM, Davy BM, and Hedrick VE. Changes in Non-Nutritive Sweetener Consumption Patterns in Response to a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intervention. Nutrients. 2020;12(11):3428-3440. doi: 10.3390/nu12113428.
  • Fausnacht AG, Myers EA, Hess EL, and Hedrick VE. Update of the BEVQ-15, a Beverage Intake Questionnaire for Habitual Beverage Intake of Adults. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 2020;33(5):729-737. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12749.
  • Hess EL, Myers EA, Swithers SE, and Hedrick VE. Associations Between Non-Nutritive Sweetener Intake and Metabolic Syndrome in Adults. Journal of the American College of Nutrition. 2018;37(6):487-493. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2018.1440658.
  • Hedrick VE, Davy BM, You W, Porter KJ, Estabrooks PA, and Zoellner JM. Dietary Quality Changes in Response to a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Reduction Intervention. Results from the Talking Health Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2017;105(4):824-833. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.116.144543.