Shreela Sharma, PhD
Dr. Shreela Sharma is the co-founder of Brighter Bites. Dr. Sharma is responsible for operationalizing the Brighter Bites formula. She developed the research infrastructure for the program and continues to ensure rigorous replication of Brighter Bites across all of the sites in Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York, Washington, D.C., and Southwest Florida.
Dr. Sharma is Professor of Epidemiology at UTHealth School of Public Health and a trained dietitian and physical therapist. As a health professional, she strongly felt she was treating preventable diseases stemming from poor lifestyles: heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension. She saw the repercussions were devastating the community. Her love for teaching, academics, and the community led her to purse a PhD in epidemiology with a minor in biostatistics, health promotion and behavioral sciences. Her interest is in nutrition and physical activity-based interventions to address obesity via school, family, and community-based approaches. In addition to her significant contribution to building the Brighter Bites model and overseeing its expansion, Dr. Sharma serves on the Mayor of Houston’s Go Healthy Houston Task Force.
In addition to Brighter Bites, Dr. Sharma’s research portfolio includes her leadership in: the ongoing ENRICH study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to pilot test a home visitation program to improve parenting behaviors for healthy weight management of overweight and obese toddlers; the Healthy Eating/Active Living (HE/AL) designed to promote healthy birth outcomes and prevent maternal and childhood obesity among low-income Medicaid patients using evidence-based strategies including Brighter Bites; and evaluation of the BUILD collective impact model to create healthy food systems in the North Pasadena community in Houston. Additionally, Dr. Sharma was the lead investigator in the development and evaluation of the CATCH Early Childhood program to improve opportunities for healthy eating and physical activity in three to five-year-old children attending preschool.