Kaitlyn Shannon '17

Food and Nutrition

Kaitlyn Shannon

Junior Kaitlyn Shannon is a Food and Nutrition major, with a minor in Psychology. Since her freshman year, she has been involved with the groundbreaking Framingham State Food Study taking place on campus in partnership with Boston Children’s Hospital. As a sophomore, she was among the first cohort of participants to complete the study. Caitlyn also interned for the study the following summer and throughout this academic year.  

About the study: Participants in the Food Study are provided with every meal for nine months. Each participant loses between 10 to 14 percent of his or her body weight during a 12-week weight-loss period and then maintains that weight loss for the duration of the study. Each participant is provided with free food and a $3,000 stipend. FSU is currently recruiting volunteers for the third cohort of the study, which begins in the fall. Anyone interested should contact 617-919-7305 or email FS2@childrens.harvard.edu. For more information, visit. www.childrenshospital.org.

How did you first get involved with the Framingham State Food Study?

My freshman year, I was a vice president on the hall council in Towers. During a meeting with Residence Life Director Glenn Cochran, we learned that the Food Study was coming to Framingham State. As a Food and Nutrition major, I was really interested and got in contact with Project Director Pat Luoto. I got involved with the recruitment work group that year and ultimately decided I wanted to participate. 

What was it like to participate in the study?

It was challenging at times. Going out to eat with people can be difficult. The dietitians on staff are really friendly and supportive. I think it changed my eating habits in a positive way. For example, going into the study I wanted to be on the low-carb diet, but ended up being randomized into the high-carb diet. That actually helped me see through the stigma associated with eating carbs. I got over the idea that carbs are bad, and now I’m just more conscious about which carbs are on my plate.

What was your summer internship experience at Children’s Hospital?

During the summer, I commuted to Boston to work 40 hours a week at the hospital. I did some data entry, helped put together flyers and formatted menus for the study. I also helped with other projects at the hospital’s New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center. I was fortunate because my supervisor told me I could spend two-thirds of my time working and one-third of my time learning what I could. That gave me the opportunity to interview program directors at Beth Israel, Children’s and Brigham and Women’s hospitals. I got to see a bariatric surgery, which was really interesting. The whole summer was a great learning experience.

How will your experience with the study benefit you professionally?

I’ve gotten to experience so many different aspects of food and nutrition, from the support side to handling data and working on an IRB (institution review board). It’s such a broad field. The networking has been great, as I’ve gotten to talk to a lot of dietitians. I’m considering getting involved with the policy side of things. I think I’d like to focus on prevention of obesity rather than dealing with it after the fact.