Melissa Kay
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Melissa Kay is a public health nutritionist conducting research in support of early life obesity prevention. Her educational background includes public health, food policy and applied nutrition, epidemiology, and nutrition interventions. She is currently faculty in the Department of Pediatrics and is using digital technologies to augment clinical care between primary care visits as well as visits with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC). Using interactive text messaging, Dr. Kay supports caregivers in adopting healthy feeding behaviors for themselves and their families.  

Current Research Interests

Dr. Kay is a behavioral interventionist, nutrition epidemiologist and registered dietitian with interest in reducing disparities in early life obesity risk using digital technologies. The overarching goal of her work is to support healthy dietary and infant feeding behaviors during the first 1,000 days - conception through 2 years of life. Her research specifically focuses on the mother-infant dyad and includes understanding the association between infant feeding practices and obesity and testing digital behavioral intervention methods to promote optimal weight gain and high-quality diets. Dr. Kay also uses dietary intake data to assess diet quality using various tools, such as the Healthy Eating Index and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) dietary pattern. She recently led the development of a Toddler Diet Quality Index based on the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which included recommendations for children under age 2 years for the first time. She uses these results to provide guidance on foods to consume in adequate amounts and foods to limit or decrease.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

Contact Information

Some information on this profile has been compiled automatically from Duke databases and external sources. (Our About page explains how this works.) If you see a problem with the information, please write to Scholars@Duke and let us know. We will reply promptly.