Kathleen L. Keller, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences and Food Science
Kathleen L. Keller, Ph.D.
321 Chandlee Laboratory
University Park, PA 16802
Work Phone: 814-863-2915

Areas of Expertise

  • Leveraging the food industry to improve child nutrition
  • Improving the palatability of foods targeted at children


  1. Ph.D, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, 2002, Nutritional Sciences
  2. Post-Doctoral Fellowship, New York Nutrition Obesity Research Center, New York, NY, 2002-2005, Focus in pediatric eating behavior and obesity

Research Interests:

Eating behaviors are complex traits that involve both biological and environmental influences.  My laboratory studies eating behaviors in young children, in particular, how do they develop and how are they related to risk for obesity later in life.  We are using techniques such as brain imaging and genetic screening of taste polymorphisms to provide insight into the biological underpinnings of eating behaviors and food preferences in children.  Also, we are researching the impact of food marketing and branding on these eating behaviors.

  • Eating behaviors in children
  • Neural mechanisms of taste preference and eating behaviors in children
  • Food marketing and childhood obesity
  • Genetic and neural influences in taste in children


Selected Publications:

Keller KL, Adise S*. Variation in ability to taste bitter thiourea compounds: Implications for food acceptance, dietary intake, and obesity risk in children. Annual Review of Nutrition. 2016;36:157-82. 2016.

Fearnbach SN*, English LK*, Lasschuijt M*, Wilson SJ, Savage JS, Fisher JO, Rolls BJ, Keller KL. Brain response to images of food varying in energy density is associated with body composition in 7- to 10-year-old children: Results of an expoloratory study. Physiology & Behavior. 2016;162:3-9. 2016.

Kling SM, Roe LS, Keller KL, Rolls BJ. Double trouble: Portion size and energy density combine to increase preschool children’s lunch intake. Physiology & Behavior. 2016;162:18-26. 2016.

Jellenik RD*, Myer TA, Keller KL. The impact of doll style of dress and familiarity on body dissatisfaction in 6-8 year-old girls. Body Image. 2016;18:75-85.

Fearnbach SN*, Silvert L, Keller KL, Genin PM, Morio B, Pereira B, Duclos M, Boirie Y, Thivel D. Reduced neural response to food cues following exercise is accompanied by decreased energy intake in obese adolescents. International Journal of Obesity. 2016;40:77-83.

Fearnbach SN*, Thivel D, Meyermann KA, Keller KL. Intake at a single, palatable buffet test meal is associated with total body fat and regional fat distribution in children. Appetite. 2015;92:233-9.

St-Onge MP, Buck C, Keller KL. Breakfast cereal and nutrition education on body mass index and diet quality in elementary school children: A pilot study. International Journal of Nutrition. 2015;1:1-7.

Cravener TL, Schlechter H*, Loeb K, Radnitz C, Schwartz M, Zucker NL, Finkelstein S, Wang YC, Rolls BJ, Keller KL. Feeding practices derived from behavioral economics and psychology can increase vegetable intake in children as part of a home based intervention: results of a pilot study. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2015;115:1798-807.

English LK*, Lasschuijt M, Keller KL. Mechanisms of the portion size effect: what is known and where do we go from here? Invited Review from Appetite. 2014;88:39-49.

Keller KL, Olsen A, Cravener TL, Bloom R*, Chung WK, Deng L, Lanzano PC, Meyermann K. Bitter taste phenotype and body weight influence children’s selection of sweet vs. savory foods at a palatable test-meal. Appetite. 2014;77:113-21.

Trippichio GL, Keller KL, Johnson C, Pietrobelli A, Heo M, Faith MS. Differential maternal feeding practices, eating self-regulation, and adiposity in young twins. Pediatrics. 2014;134:1399-404.

Keller KL. The use of repeated exposure and associative conditioning to increase vegetable acceptance in children: explaining the variability across studies. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2014;114:1169-7

Keller KL, Olsen AM, Kuilema LG, Meyermann K, van Belle C.  Predictors of parental perceptions and concerns about child weight.  Appetite. 2013;62:96-102.

Faith MS, Heo M, Keller KL, Pietrobelli A.  "Child food neophobia is heritable, associated with less compliant eating, and moderates familial resemblance for BMI" Obesity. 2013;(8):1650-5

Burd C, Senerat A, Chambers E, Keller KL.  PROP taster status interacts with the built environment to influence children’s food acceptance and body weight status.  Obesity. 2012; 21(4):786-794.

Faith MS, Pietrobelli A, Heo M, Johnson SL, Keller KL, Heymsfield SB, Allison DB.  A twin study of self-regulatory eating in early childhood:  Estimates of genetic and environmental influence and measurement considerations.  Int J Obes.  2012;36(7):931-37.

Keller KL.  Genetic influences on oral fat perception and preference:  Presented at the symposium “The taste for fat:  new discoveries on the role of fat in sensory perception, metabolism, sensory pleasure and beyond” held at the Institute of Food Technologists 2011 Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA, June 12th, 2011.  J  Food Sci 77(3):S143-7;2012.

Keller KL, Kuilema LG, Lee N, Yoon J, Mascaro B, Combes A-L, Deutsch B, Sorte K, Halford JCG. The impact of food branding on children’s eating behavior and obesity: a presentation given at the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior Annual Meeting.  Physiol Behav. 106(3):379-86;2012.

Keller KL, Liang L, Sakimura-McLean J, May D, van Belle C, Breen C, Driggin E, Tepper BJ, Lanzano P, Deng L, Chung WK.  Common variants in the CD36 gene are associated with reported fat preferences and obesity in African-Americans.  Obesity. 2012;20:1066-73.

Lee H, Keller KL.  Children who are pressured-to-eat at home show “healthier” eating patterns in ad libitum laboratory meals where no pressure is administered.  J Am Diet Assoc.  112(2):271-5;2012.

Liang L, Sakimura-Mclean J, May D, Breen C, Driggin E, Tepper BJ, Chung WK, Keller KL.  Fat Discrimination:  A phenotype with potential implications for studying fat intake behaviors and obesity.  Physiol & Behav. 2012;105:470-5.

Olsen AM, van Belle C, Meyermann K, Keller KL. Manipulating fat content of familiar foods at test-meals does not affect intake and liking of these foods among children.  Appetite. 57(3):573-77.2011.

Sud S, Tamayo NC, Faith MS, Keller KL.  Increased restrictive feeding practices are associated with reduced energy density in 4-6 year-old multi-ethnic children at ad libitum laboratory test meals.  Appetite 55(2):201-7.2010.

Keller KL, Reid A, MacDougall MC, Cassano H, Song JL, Deng L, Lanzano P, Chung WK, Kissileff HR.  Sex differences in the effects of inherited bitter thiourea sensitivity on body weight in 4-6 year-old children.  Obesity  18(6):1194-1200;2010.

Forman J, Halford JC, Summe H, MacDougall MC, Keller KL.  Food branding influences ad libitum intake differently in children depending on weight status:  results of a pilot study.  Appetite 53:76-83;2009.

Keller KL, Kirzner J, Pietrobelli A, St-Onge MP, Faith MS.  Increased sweetened beverage intake is associated with reduced milk and calcium intake in 3-7 y. old children at multi-item laboratory lunches.  J Am Diet Assoc. 109(3):497-501;2009. NIHMS99821.

Keller KL, Pietrobelli A, Johnson SL, Faith MS.  Maternal restriction of children’s eating and encouragements to eat as part of the ‘non-shared environment’:  a pilot study using the child feeding questionnaire.  Int J  Obes 30:1670-75;2006.

Keller KL, Tepper BJ.  A possible role for taste sensitivity to 6-n-propylthiouracil (PROP) in dietary patterns and body weight differences in young children.  Obesity Res 12:904-12;2004.

Teaching Interests:

Nutrition across the Lifespan, Nutrition and Behavior, Overview of Contemporary Nutrition Issues, Clinical Nutrition, Childhood Eating Behaviors and Obesity