Rhonda Bell

Rhonda Bell, PhD

Office:      4-126B, Li Ka Shing Centre for Health Research Innovation 
Mail:        University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB Canada T6G 2E1 
Phone:     780-492-7742 
Fax:         780-492-4265 
Email:      rhonda.bell@ualberta.ca

Current Position                                                       

Professor, Department of Agricultural, Food & Nutritional Science

Research Areas

Human nutrition

Current Research Activities

I lead a team of trainees (graduate and undergraduate students and post docs) and research staff in studies that examine the role of nutrition in promoting health and preventing and treating diabetes and its complications. My research program integrates applied and basic research. Much of my work is conducted within the paradigm of the Developmental Origins of Health and Disease, examining the role of nutritional intake during sensitive periods of development on health, specifically diabetes risk, in mothers and their offspring.

In the applied setting, I am leading the ENRICH Program (a Collaborative Research and Innovation Opportunity funded by Alberta Innovates Health Solutions) aimed at improving maternal health during pregnancy and postpartum using innovative strategies that meet the needs of diverse groups of women across Alberta. The goals of this Program are to: 1) advance knowledge regarding food and nutrient intake and energy expenditure in pregnancy and postpartum; 2) understand perceptions and experiences of diverse groups of pregnant and postpartum women pertaining to diet, body weight and health; 3) identify needs, gaps and opportunities in health service delivery systems that may be harnessed to promote optimal dietary intake and appropriate weight management strategies; and 4) collaborate with knowledge users, to develop and evaluate strategies aimed at promoting optimal dietary intake and appropriate weight management. The Program builds on on-going projects that I am part of, including the Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) study (a large, prospective cohort study examining the relationship between maternal nutritional intake in pregnancy, mental health and child health and development) and Sweet Moms (examining the effects of dietary fructose on pregnancy and infant outcomes).

I also lead a group who do basic research examining the extent to which changing carbohydrate intake during the sensitive periods of development impacts on insulin sensitivity, insulin secretion, glucose homeostasis, fatty acid uptake, and molecular and cellular mechanisms related to whole-body physiology. Graduate students and support staff working on these studies examine maternal and offspring health, and both short and long-term effects, also in the context of the developmental origins hypothesis.

My other research activities include translating guidelines for nutrition and physical activity for people with diabetes using practical, cost-effective approaches. Much of this work is done in conjunction with the Physical Activity and Nutrition for Diabetes in Alberta (PANDA) study and I lead the PANDA Nutrition Team. We have a menu plan and recipe guide available for purchase called the Pure Prairie Eating Plan (PPEP).



PhD Human Nutrition, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, USA

MSc Health Studies, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON

BSc Kinesiology, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, ON

Selected Publications

Soria D, McCargar LJ, Bell RC, Chan CB (2014) Feasibility and efficacy of menu planning combined with individual counseling to improve health outcomes and dietary adherence in individuals with type 2 diabetes: a pilot study.  Cdn J Diabetes, 38:320-325.  Funding: FOMD and Alberta Diabetes Institute.

Watanabe T, Berry TR, Willows ND, Bell RC.  (2014) Validation of a Questionnaire to Explore Knowledge, Attitudes and Behaviours about Diet and Glycemic Index in Diabetes. Cdn J Diabetes, in press.  Funding: Alberta Innovates–Health Solutions; U of A Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry; Heart and Stroke, Canada. 

Fayyaz F, Wang F, Jacobs RL, O’Connor DL, Bell RC, Field CJ, and the APrON Team. (2014) Folate, vitamin B12, and vitamin B6 status of a group of high socioeconomic status women in the Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) cohort.Appl Physiol Nutr Metabol  39(12):1402-8. Funding: Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions.

Graham JE, Mayan M, McCargar LJ, Bell RC and the Sweet Moms Study Team. (2013) Making Compromises: A qualitative study of sugar consumption behaviors during pregnancy. Journal of Nutr Education and Behavior, 45:578-585.

Webster TG, Harber VJ, Bell RC, Bell GJ. (2013) Hormonal responses associated with the nadir in blood glucose during graded cycling exercise. Journal of Exercise Science and Fitness, 11:6-11.

Strawson C, Olstad D, Bell RC, Farmer A, Willows N. (2013) Dietary Behaviour of University Students with Nutrition Education.  Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research, accepted, Dec 2012.  

Jessri M, Farmer A, Maximova K, Willows N, Bell RC, and the APrON Team. (2013) Predictors of Exclusive Breast Feeding: Observations from the Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) study.  BMC Pediatrics, Accepted, Dec 2012.  

Kaplan BJ, Giesbrecht GF, Leung BMY, Field CJ, Dewey D, Bell RC, Manca DP, O'Beirne M, Johnston DW, Pop VJ, Singhal N, Gagnon L, Bernier FB, Eliasziw M, McCargar LJ, Kooistra L, Farmer A, Cantell M, Goonewardene L, Casey LM, Letourneau N, Martin JW. (2012) The Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APrON) cohort study: Rationale and Methods. Maternal and Child Nutrition, July 17 (e-pub ahead of print).  

Begum F, Colman I, McCargar LJ, Bell RC, on behalf of the APrON Study (2012) Gestational Weight Gain and Early Postpartum Weight Retention  in a Prospective Cohort of Albertan Women, Can J Obstetrics Gynaecol,  34(7):637-47. Funding: Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions.

Berry T, Chan CB, Bell RC, Anders S. (2012) Communicating diabetes best practices to clients. Health Promotion Practice. Health Promotion Practice, 13(3):388-394. 

Whitlock, KA, Kozicky L, Jin A, Yee H, Ha C, Morris J, Field CJ, Bell RC, Ozga JA, Chan CB (2011) Assessment of the mechanisms exerting glucose-lowering effects of dried peas in glucose intolerant rats.  British J Nutr, accepted Dec 2011.

Tudor-Locke C, Craig CL, Aoyagi Y, Bell RC, Croteau KA, De Bourdeaudhuij I, Ewald B, Gardner AW, Yoshiro Hatano, Lutes LD, Matsudo SM, Ramirez-Marrero FA, Rogers LQ, Rowe DA, Schmidt MD, Tully MA and Blair SN. (2011) How Many Steps/day are Enough? For Older Adults and Special Populations.  International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 28(8):80.

Boulé NG, Robert C, Bell GJ, Johnson ST, Bell RC, Lewanczuk RZ, Brocks D. (2011) Metformin and exercise in type 2 diabetes: Examining treatment modality interactions.  Diabetes Care, 34(7):1469-74. 

Frohlich JL, Leal JME, Johnson ST, Chan CB, Bell RC. (2011)  Flavanoid intake of adult Albertans with Type 2 diabetes estimated using 3 day food records: part of the PANDA study.  Journal of the Home Economics Institute of Australia, 18(1): 9-15.  

Willows ND, Sanou D, Bell RC. (2011) Assessment of Canadian Indigenous prenatal growth using the WHO Child Growth Standards.  American Journal of Human Biology, 23(1):126-31. Funding: CIHR; AHFMR; Cree Board of Health.  Role: collaborator. 

Drozdowski LA, Reimer RA, Temelli F, Bell RC, Vasanthan T, Thomson ABR.(2010) B-glucan extracts inhibit the in vitro intestinal uptake of lipids and downregulates I-FABP4 genes involved in fatty acid synthesis and cholesterol metabolism in rats. J. Nutr Biochem 21: 695–701. 

Sebert S, Hyatt M, Chan L, Yiallourides M, Fainberg H, Patel N, Sharkey D, Stephenson T, Rhind S, Bell RC, Budge H, Gardner D, and Symonds ME.  (2010) Influence of prenatal nutrition and obesity on the fat mass and obesity-associated (FTO) gene expression.  Reproduction 139(1):265-74. 

Johnson ST, Bell G, McCargar L, Welsh R, Bell RC. (2009) Improved cardiovascular health following a progressive walking and dietary intervention in Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes, Metabolism and Obesity 11:836-843.