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Vivica Kraak, PhD, RDN

Associate Professor
  • Graduate Program Faculty
Vivica Kraak
257 Wallace Hall
Blacksburg, VA 24061

Behavioral and Community Science

Vivica I. Kraak, PhD, MS, RDN is associate professor of food and nutrition policy in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise. She has more than 30 years of professional experience to evaluate strategies and policies to hold food system stakeholders accountable for creating healthy and sustainable diets and food systems for populations. Her research strives to improve the policies of government, industry and civil society to address the Global Syndemic—undernutrition, obesity and diet-related non-communicable diseases, and climate change. She teaches courses on U.S. food and nutrition policies and programs and active transport for a healthy and sustainable planet.

Dr. Kraak’s current research projects (2022-2026) include: (1) developing and applying a food systems governance typology to examine how digital advocacy and activism may catalyze political and social change to promote healthy, equitable, resilient and sustainable food systems; (2) evaluating the accountability process and outcomes for corporate commitments and multi-stakeholder governance approaches to support healthy affordable diets within sustainable food systems; (3) using a media campaign typology to inform strategic communications to promote healthy beverage behaviors; (4) testing a multi-dimensional digital food and nutrition literacy framework to guide online healthy food retail policies and practices to address nutrition security for the USDA’s SNAP participants; (5) applying a policy, systems and environmental (PSE) change action framework to establish healthy portion size norms and sustainable eating patterns in the United States (U.S.); and (6) exploring how to strengthen child-rights governance in the U.S. to align with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

Dr. Kraak’s completed research projects and publications (2018-2022) include: (1) review of food and beverage marketing practices and policies to promote healthy food environments for children and adolescents; (2) examining U.S. and global chain restaurant sectors' use of marketing-mix and choice-architecture strategies to create healthy food environments; (3) analyzing the policy content for alternative plant-based and cell-cultured protein products in the U.S.; (4) developing and testing a media campaign typology to analyze media communications for healthy and unhealthy beverages promoted in the U.S.; (5) evaluating the Partnership for a Healthier America’s Fruits & Veggies (FNV) Campaign; and (6) evaluating the accountability of celebrity and influencer endorsements with food, beverage, and restaurant firms to market branded products to young Americans.

HNFE 4004: Seminar for Writing and Discourse in the Major
HNFE 5324: Public Health Nutrition Policies and Programs
SPIA/HNFE 2314: Active Transport for a Healthy, Sustainable Planet

United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition, November 2020, Rome, Italy (via Zoom)
Nutrition in a Digital World

How Can We Ensue that Digital Technologies are Used to Support Healthy and Sustainable Diets in a Post-COVID Era?

NASEM Food Forum Meeting, September 2020, Washington, DC (via Zoom)
Food Processing and Health: State of the Science and Policy Evidence for Policy Action: U.S. and International Policy Landscape

13th Southern Obesity Summit, October 2019, Oklahoma City, OK
The Lancet Global Syndemic Report: Applying a systems approach to tackle U.S. obesity within the context of the Global Syndemic

17th International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity ISBNPA) Conference, June 2018, Hong Kong, China
Mobilizing the Business Sector to Use Marketing and Choice-Architecture Strategies to Promote Healthy and Sustainable Lifestyle Behaviors

12th Healthy Eating Research Grantee Meeting, April 2018, Nashville, TN
Stakeholders’ Views about the Partnership for a Healthier America’s Fruits & Veggies (FNV) Campaign to Increase Sales and Consumption of Produce in California and Virginia, 2015-2016

15th World Congress on Public Health, April 2017, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Progress evaluation for the U.S. restaurant industry’s use of choice-architecture strategies to nudge American children and adolescents toward healthy food environments, 2006-2016 and mapping the celebrity marketing of branded food and beverage products in the United States

13th International Congress on Obesity May 2016 Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Progress achieved by the World Health Organization, member states, and other actors to restrict the marketing of high fat, sugary and salty food and beverage products to children and adolescents globally.
Progress evaluation for the restaurant industry’s use of choice-architecture to nudge American children and adolescents toward healthy food environments, 2006-2016.

Health Affairs Briefing on a special Food and Health issue November 2015 Washington, DC
Guiding Principles and a Decision-Making Framework for Stakeholders Pursuing Healthy Food Environments

Food and Nutrition Board Food Forum Workshop September 2015 Washington, DC
The National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine
How Smart Policies can Promote Healthy Food Environments and Food Literacy to Benefit Population Health

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (1989 to present)
American Public Health Association (1994 to present)
American Society for Nutrition (2011 to present)
Fralin Translational Obesity Research Center
(2014 to 2017)
Virginia Tech Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors (2017 to present)

Invited peer reviewer for many disciplinary professional journals and research grants

Expert panel and committee service:
Fulbright Scholar award (Copenhagen, Denmark; spring 2017)
Lancet Obesity Commission Fellow (2016-2018)
Food Forum, Health and Medicine Division, National Academy of Medicine (2016–present)
Advisor to the RWJF’s building the evidence base on private-sector engagement project (2015–2016)

Public Health Consultant
Research Fellow, WHO Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention
Research Associate, British Heart Foundation
Nutrition and Physical Activity Advisor, Save the Children, U.S. Programs
Senior Program Officer, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, The National Academies

Vivica has more than 25 years of professional experience combined from academic settings and non-governmental organizations.

From 2010 to September 2013, she worked as a part-time research fellow at Deakin University’s World Health Collaborating Centre for Obesity Prevention and the Population Health Strategic Research Centre, School of Health and Social Development in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

From 2007 to 2010, she was the nutrition and physical activity advisor for Save the Children’s U.S. after-school obesity prevention program serving rural children in 12 states.

From 2002 to 2006, she staffed several expert consensus committees convened by the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine at The National Academies in Washington, DC.

From 1994 to 2000, she worked as a research nutritionist in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University, where she coordinated several domestic and international food policy and community nutrition research projects.

2014, Ph.D., Population Health, Deakin University
1989, R.D., Dietetic Internship, University Hospitals of Cleveland
1989, M.S., Nutritional Sciences, Case Western Reserve University
1985, B.S., Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University