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Kai Ling Kong, PhD

TitleDoctoral Research Faculty
InstitutionChildren's Mercy Kansas City
DepartmentPediatrics
Address2401 Gilham Rd
Kansas City MO 64108
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    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse education and training
    University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NYFellowship2016Research
    Iowa State University, Ames, IAPh.D05/2013Nutritional Sciences-Food Science and Human Nutrition
    Iowa State University, Ames, IAMS01/2009Nutritional Sciences-Food Science and Human Nutrition

    Collapse Overview 

    Collapse Research 
    Collapse research overview
    Dr. Kong’s research targets health during pregnancy and infancy in order to identify novel insights into childhood obesity prevention. One premise of her work is grounded in behavioral economics and necessitates valid early measures of food and non-food reinforcement. Based on this framework, an individual’s decision to eat or participate in a fun activity, for example, is moderated by their constraints on those options and the presence of alternatives. Another premise of her work is grounded in environmental enrichment and choice architecture. Relevant literature suggests that increasing the availability of options in one’s environment can be effective at making a healthy lifestyle more attainable.

    Within the abovementioned areas, she is intrigued by why a strong motivation to eat arises in some individuals but not others. Through a series of pilot studies, she developed a paradigm measuring the reinforcing values of food and non-food alternatives during early life. She discovered that there are individual differences in motivation to earn food vs. non-food rewards as early as infancy, and that lower motivation to engage in non-food activities is associated with a greater weight status. Such findings led her to secure an R01 investigating the efficacy of a music program to shift motivation to eat in 9–15-month-olds particularly attracted to food. In the near future, she aims to utilize data collected from this line of research to create unique approaches that enhance traditional strategies for improving infants’ energy intakes and expenditures. Rapid weight gain during the first year of life predicts later obesity and is notably prevalent among low socioeconomic status (SES) groups. Dr. Kong argues that ecological and economic circumstances experienced by low SES individuals (e.g., lack of eating alternatives, chronic deprivation) augments food reinforcement; therefore, implementing interventions that promote non-food reinforcement may decrease socioeconomic disparities in obesity.

    Additionally, and more broadly speaking, Dr. Kong believes that obesity prevention commencing during the prenatal period has the largest potential to effectively tackle our current epidemic. At present, she serves as a co-investigator for an R33/R21 assessing how exposure to tobacco and cannabis in utero adversely affects child health, in particular, obesity development. In another grant as well, she is interested in evaluating the relationship between maternal cholesterol levels throughout pregnancy and infant outcomes.
    Collapse research activities and funding
         (Kai Ling Kong)Feb 29, 2016 - Dec 31, 2018
    University at Buffalo’s Innovative Micro-Programs Accelerating Collaboration in Themes (IMPACT)
    Developing the methodology to measure food reward in young infants (3-6-month olds)
    Role: Principal Investigator

         (Kai Ling Kong)Aug 1, 2016 - Jul 31, 2021
    National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development
    Enhancing alternatives to eating in infants
    Role: Principal Investigator

         (Stephanie Anzman-Frasca)Oct 1, 2017 - Dec 31, 2018
    Howard T. Blane Director’s Award for the Development of Innovative Research in the Addictions (BDAA)
    Using positive parent-child interactions as an alternative reinforcer to promote healthier eating among preschoolers
    Role: Co-Investigator

         (Rina Eiden)Sep 30, 2018 - Aug 31, 2023
    National Institutes on Drug Abuse
    Prenatal tobacco and cannabis exposure: A translational study
    Role: Co-Investigator

         (Stephanie Anzman-Frasca)Dec 1, 2018 - Jun 1, 2021
    Buffalo Blue Sky Program, University at Buffalo
    Parenting toolkit to promote healthier eating
    Role: Co-Investigator

         (Jennifer Temple)Jan 1, 2019 - Jul 1, 2021
    Buffalo Blue Sky Program, University at Buffalo
    Snacking for two: A pregnancy study
    Role: Co-Investigator

         (Todd Rideout)May 1, 2020 - Apr 1, 2022
    Clinical and Translational Research Center (CTSA), University at Buffalo
    Maternal oxysterol metabolism in dyslipidemic pregnancies
    Role: Co-Investigator

    Collapse Bibliography 
    Collapse selected publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
    List All   |   Timeline
    1. Kong KL, Burgess B, Morris KS, Re T, Hull HR, Sullivan DK, Paluch RA. Association Between Added Sugars from Infant Formulas and Rapid Weight Gain in US Infants and Toddlers. J Nutr. 2021 Apr 20. PMID: 33880550.
      View in: PubMed
    2. Kong KL, Fazzino TL, Rohde KM, Morris KS. The Prevalence of Hyperpalatable Baby Foods and Exposure During Infancy: A Preliminary Investigation. Front Psychol. 2021; 12:614607. PMID: 33927666.
      View in: PubMed
    3. Kong KL, Burgess B, Morris KS, Faith MS, Paluch RA. High intake of added sugars is linked to rapid weight gain in infancy, breastfeeding for at least 12 months may protect against this: A preliminary investigation. Pediatr Obes. 2021; 3(16).
    4. Burgess B, Morris KS, Faith MS, Paluch RA, Kong KL. (In press). Added sugars mediate the relation between pre-pregnancy BMI and infant rapid weight gain: a preliminary investigation. Int J Obes. 2021.
    5. Button A, Faith MS, Paluch RA, Kong KL. (In press). The interplay between pre-pregnancy BMI, infant negative temperament and slowness in eating on infant rapid weight gain. Child Obes. 2021.
    6. Kong KL, Anzman-Frasca S, Epstein LH, Eiden RD, Paluch RA. Infants with big appetites: The role of a nonfood environment on infant appetitive traits linked to obesity. Am J Clin Nutr. 2020 10 01; 112(4):948-955. PMID: 32652028.
      View in: PubMed
    7. Attai P, Szabat J, Anzman-Frasca S, Kong KL. Associations between Parental and Child Screen Time and Quality of the Home Environment: A Preliminary Investigation. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 08 27; 17(17). PMID: 32867027.
      View in: PubMed
    8. Savell M, Eiden RD, Kong KL, Tauriello S, Epstein L, Fabiano G, Reardon K, Anzman-Frasca S. Development of a measure of the relative reinforcing value of food versus parent-child interaction for young children. Appetite. 2020 10 01; 153:104731. PMID: 32417301.
      View in: PubMed
    9. Crandall AK, Temple JL, Kong KL. The association of food insecurity with the relative reinforcing value of food, BMI, and gestational weight gain among pregnant women. Appetite. 2020 08 01; 151:104685. PMID: 32229225.
      View in: PubMed
    10. Kong KL, Eiden RD, Paluch RA. Early Nonfood Parent-Infant Interactions and Development of Obesity in a High-Risk, Diverse Sample. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2019 11; 27(11):1754-1760. PMID: 31689006.
      View in: PubMed
    11. Wong S, Kong KL, Buchholz AC, Haines J. The reinforcing value of food and non-food alternative: Associations with BMI z-score and percent fat mass. Eat Behav. 2019 08; 34:101316. PMID: 31419769.
      View in: PubMed
    12. Wen X, Eiden RD, Justicia-Linde FE, Wang Y, Higgins ST, Kong KL, Shittu AAT, Perkins JM, Esadah P, Mautner TE, Epstein LH. Reducing fetal origins of childhood obesity through maternal smoking cessation during pregnancy: an intervention study. Int J Obes (Lond). 2019 07; 43(7):1435-1439. PMID: 30518822.
      View in: PubMed
    13. Kong KL, Epstein LH, Phillips JK, Carr KA, Paluch RA, Gerard KS. Food and non-food reinforcement among pregnant women. Appetite. 2018 12 01; 131:155-159. PMID: 30217581.
      View in: PubMed
    14. Dharmavaram P, Kong KL, Anzman-Frasca S, Epstein L, Titus AH. Development of a Human Infant Feeding Reinforcement System. Annu Int Conf IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2018 Jul; 2018:3914-3917. PMID: 30441216.
      View in: PubMed
    15. Kong KL, Eiden RD, Anzman-Frasca S, Stier CL, Paluch RA, Mendez J, Slominski E, Gengatharan G, Epstein LH. Repeatability of the infant food reinforcement paradigm: Implications of individual and developmental differences. Appetite. 2018 Jan 01; 120:123-129. PMID: 28807618.
      View in: PubMed
    16. Kong KL, Anzman-Frasca S, Feda DM, Eiden RD, Sharma NN, Stier CL, Epstein LH. Infant Temperament Is Associated with Relative Food Reinforcement. Child Obes. 2016 12; 12(6):411-417. PMID: 27447680.
      View in: PubMed
    17. Kong KL, Epstein LH. Food reinforcement during infancy. Prev Med. 2016 11; 92:100-105. PMID: 27373207.
      View in: PubMed
    18. Kong KL, Gillman MW, Rifas-Shiman SL, Wen X. Mid-childhood fruit and vegetable consumption: The roles of early liking, early consumption, and maternal consumption. Appetite. 2016 10 01; 105:306-11. PMID: 27238899.
      View in: PubMed
    19. Kong KL, Eiden RD, Feda DM, Stier CL, Fletcher KD, Woodworth EM, Paluch RA, Epstein LH. Reducing relative food reinforcement in infants by an enriched music experience. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2016 Apr; 24(4):917-23. PMID: 27028283.
      View in: PubMed
    20. Kong KL, Gillman MW, Rifas-Shiman SL, Wen X. Leisure time physical activity before and during mid-pregnancy and offspring adiposity in mid-childhood. Pediatr Obes. 2016 Apr; 11(2):81-7. PMID: 25854785.
      View in: PubMed
    21. Kong KL, Feda DM, Eiden RD, Epstein LH. Origins of food reinforcement in infants. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Mar; 101(3):515-22. PMID: 25733636.
      View in: PubMed
    22. Wen X, Kong KL, Eiden RD, Sharma NN, Xie C. Sociodemographic differences and infant dietary patterns. Pediatrics. 2014 Nov; 134(5):e1387-98. PMID: 25311608.
      View in: PubMed
    23. Kong KL, Campbell C, Wagner K, Peterson A, Lanningham-Foster L. Impact of a walking intervention during pregnancy on post-partum weight retention and infant anthropometric outcomes. J Dev Orig Health Dis. 2014 Jun; 5(3):259-67. PMID: 24901666.
      View in: PubMed
    24. Kong KL, Campbell CG, Foster RC, Peterson AD, Lanningham-Foster L. A pilot walking program promotes moderate-intensity physical activity during pregnancy. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2014 Mar; 46(3):462-71. PMID: 24002348.
      View in: PubMed
    25. Kong KL, Hendrich S. Glycemic index, insulinemic index, and satiety index of kefir. J Am Coll Nutr. 2012 Aug; 31(4):280-7. PMID: 23378456.
      View in: PubMed
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