Academic Faculty

Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, Ph.D., R.D.

Leslie Cunningham-Sabo, Ph.D., R.D.

Associate Professor

106 Gifford Building | (970) 491-6791 |

School-based Childhood Obesity Prevention Laboratory

Research Interests:

  • The cooking experience as a way to change food behavior and related mediating variables (e.g., attitudes, self-efficacy, preferences) in children and adults
  • Validation of dietary instruments with children and adults
  • Translation of prevention research into practice
  • Minority populations (e.g., Hispanic, American Indian)
  • Research settings: public health, community, schools
  • Approaches: community-based participatory research


  • Ph.D. - University of New Mexico, Health Education, 2000
  • Doctoral Dissertation: Nutrition Education for Navajo Elders: Use of Diffusion of Innovation Attributes
  • M.S. and Dietetic Internship - University of Arizona, Human Nutrition, 1989
  • Master's Thesis: Assessing Hemodialysis Patients' Compliance to Fluid and Dietary Recommendations: Use of the Multidimensional Locus of Control Construct and Other Methods
  • B.A. - Michigan State University, Medical Anthropology, minor in Community Nutrition, 1979

Professional Experience:

  • Colorado School of Public Health, Department of Community and Behavioral Health, Adjunct Associate Professor 2013 – present; 2008 – 2013 Assistant Professor
  • Colorado State University, Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, Associate Professor 2013 – present; 2007 – 2013 Assistant Professor
  • University of New Mexico, Health Sciences Center, Department of Pediatrics, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, Assistant Research Professor 2003-2007; Senior Research Scientist 1997-2003; Program Specialist 1990-1997
  • University of Arizona, Arizona Cancer Center and Department of Family and Community Medicine, Research Nutritionist/Project Coordinator, 1987-1990
  • Variety of community- , university- and clinical-based nutrition positions in Michigan, Illinois, and Arizona, 1979-1987

Honors and Awards (selected):

  • Northern Colorado Superwoman Awardee 2015
  • Colorado Women of Influence, Woman of Vision Awardee 2013
  • Service Learning Instructional Innovation Award, Colorado State University 2010
  • Mid-Career Achievement Award, Society for Nutrition Education 2006

Publications (since 2011; * student contribution):

  • Peer-Reviewed Manuscripts* Niebaum, K, Cunningham-Sabo, L, Carroll, J, and Bellows, L. Infographics: An Innovative Tools to Capture Consumers’ Attention. (accepted by J Extension)
  • *Smith, S, Cunningham-Sabo, L. Attitudes and Perceptions of Middle School Lunch Program Participants and Non-Participants (accepted by the J Child Nutr Manag)
  • Bellows, L, *Conlon, T, Johnson, S, and Cunningham-Sabo, L. Opportunities in the Classroom or Cafeteria for a ‘Tasting Challenge’ to Influence First Grade Students’ Willingness to Try New Foods. (accepted by J Child Nutr Manag)
  • *Niebaum, K, Cunningham-Sabo, L, Carroll, J, and Bellows, L. Developing Effective Educational Materials Using Best Practices in Health Literacy. J. Extension

  • Lohse, B, Belue, Rhonda, Smith, S, Wamboldt, P and Cunningham-Sabo, L. About Eating: An online program with evidence of increased food resource management skills for low-income women, J Nutr Educ Behav 2015;47(3):265-272.
  • *Haas J, Cunningham-Sabo L, Auld G. Plate waste and attitudes among high school lunch program participants. J Child Nutr Manag. 2014;38(1)
  • *Smith S, Cunningham-Sabo L. Food choice, plate waste, and nutrient intake of elementary- and middle-school students participating in the U.S. national school lunch program. Public Health Nutr. 2014;17(6):1255-1263.
  • Cunningham-Sabo L, Lohse B. Impact of a school-based cooking curriculum for 4th grade students on attitudes and behaviors is influenced by gender and prior cooking experience. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2014;46(2):110-120.
  • Cunningham-Sabo L, Lohse B. Cooking with kids positively impacts 4th-graders’ vegetable preferences, and attitudes and self-efficacy for food and cooking. Childhood Obesity. 2013;9(6):549-556.
  • Hoelscher D, Kirk S, Ritchie L, Cunningham-Sabo L. Position of the academy of nutrition and dietetics: interventions for the prevention and treatment of pediatric overweight and obesity. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2013;113(10):1375-1394.
  • *Diker A, Cunningham-Sabo L, Bachman K, Stacey J, Walters L, Wells L. Nutrition educator adoption and implementation of an experiential foods curriculum. J Nutr Educ Behav. 2013;45(6):499-509.
  • Herman D, Baer MT, Adams E, Cunningham-Sabo L, Duran N, Johnson D, et al. Life course perspective: evidence for the role of nutrition. Matern Child Healt J. 2013;17:136-146.
  • Cunningham-Sabo, L. and Simons, A. (2012) Home Economics: An Old-Fashioned Answer to a Modern-Day Dilemma? Nutrition Today.
  • Haughton B., Eppig K., Looney S.M., Cunningham-Sabo L., Spear B.A., Spence M., & Stang J.S. (2012) Incorporating the Life Course Model into MCH Nutrition Leadership Education and Training Programs. Maternal and Child Health Journal DOI 10.1007/s10995-012-0959-1.
  • Lukas C.V. and Cunningham-Sabo, L. (2011) Qualitative Investigation of the Cooking with Kids Program: Focus Group Interviews with Fourth Grade Students, Teachers, and Food Educators. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior;43:517-524.
  • Diker, A., Cunningham-Sabo, L., Bachman, K., Stacey, J., Walters, L., and Wells, L., (2011) Effective Training Design: Use of Theory and Formative Assessment. Health Promotion Practice; doi: 10.1177/1524839910386909.
  • Diker, A., Walters, L.M., Cunningham-Sabo, L., and Baker S. (2011) Factors Influencing Adoption and Implementation of an Experiential School-Based Nutrition Education Curriculum: Cooking With Kids. Journal of Extension ;49:1-13.
  • Wallen, V., Cunningham-Sabo, L., Auld, G., and Romaniello, C. (2011) Validation of a group-administered pictorial dietary recall with 9-11 year old children. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior; 43:50-54 PMID: 21216366.
  • Lohse, B., Cunningham-Sabo, L., Walters, L.M., and Stacey, J.E. (2011) Valid and reliable measures of cognitive behaviors toward fruits and vegetables for children aged 9 to 11 years. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior43:42-49 PMID: 21216365.

External Grants:

Current Research Projects