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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 overview
    Research of Dr. Kong focuses on health during pregnancy and infancy. She aims to identify how eating behaviors in infants and toddlers influence body weight later in life, as well as how early interventions can protect those at risk for obesity. The premise of her work is grounded in the behavioral economics framework and necessitates valid early measures of food and non-food reinforcement. Based on this framework, an individual’s choice to obtain commodities, such as food or fun activity is influenced by the constraints on those choices, as well as the availability of alternatives surrounding him/her. Secondly, the premise of her work is also grounded by research on environmental enrichment, and principle of choice architecture. Literature in these two areas suggest that arrangement of one’s physical environment, such as increasing the availability of choices, substitutability between reinforcers and constraints on complements to eating, can be used to make healthful lifestyle choices more obvious and accessible.
    Dr. Kong’s research in this area has been on the origins of food reinforcement, determined by understanding how a strong motivation to eat develops in some infants and not in others. To answer this, she initiated a series of pilot studies to develop a paradigm measuring the reinforcing values of food and non-food alternatives in 9-18 month old infants in the laboratory. Her findings revealed that a) there are individual differences in motivation to earn food versus non-food rewards as early as infancy, and b) that lower motivation to engage in non-food activities in infancy is associated with greater weight status. Rapid weight gain during the first year of life significantly predicts later obesity, and it is the biggest contributor to socioeconomic status (SES) disparities in obesity. She argues that the ecological and economic circumstances experienced by individuals with low SES – including lack of alternatives to eating, and chronic deprivation, perhaps – augments food reinforcement by promoting maladaptive eating behaviors starting early in life. Greater food reinforcement then leads to positive energy balance and excessive weight gain. She believes by implementing interventions that target food reinforcement or its moderators to promote healthy eating behavior in an obesogenic low SES environment would be a true innovation in weight control and health disparities research.

    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.
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    1. 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
    2. Kong KL, Burgess B, Morris KS, Faith MS, Paluch RA. High intake of added sugars is linked to rapid weight gain in infancy, breastfeeding =12?months may protect against this: A preliminary investigation. Pediatr Obes. 2020 Sep 23; e12728. PMID: 32965090.
      View in: PubMed
    3. 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
    4. 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
    5. 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
    6. 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
    7. 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
    8. 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
    9. 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
    10. 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
    11. 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
    12. 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
    13. Kong KL, Epstein LH. Food reinforcement during infancy. Prev Med. 2016 11; 92:100-105. PMID: 27373207.
      View in: PubMed
    14. 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
    15. 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
    16. Kong K, Liu J, Tao Y. Limitations of studies on school-based nutrition education interventions for obesity in China: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2016; 25(3):589-601. PMID: 27440695.
      View in: PubMed
    17. 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
    18. 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
    19. 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
    20. 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
    21. 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
    22. 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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