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Professor and Department Chair

Email: althomps(@)

Phone: (919) 843-2060

Phone: (919) 843-8978

Fax: (919) 962-1613

Office: 302 Alumni

Area of Interest:

Biomedical anthropology, nutrition, human biology, early life determinants of body composition and obesity, infant and child feeding


Ph.D. Anthropology, Emory University, 2007

MPH Public Nutrition/Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University 2007

Professional Background:

I am a biological anthropologist specializing in human growth and nutrition.  My research focuses on understanding the biocultural and biomedical influences on growth and physiology during infancy and childhood. I am particularly interested in how early life nutrition and environmental exposures shape long-term health and obesity risk.

My research combines laboratory, anthropological and epidemiological approaches to explore the effects of early environments on growth, body composition, and reproductive development. My work focuses on: sex differences in the association between hormones, body composition, and feeding during infancy; the effects of early diet on the development of the intestinal microbiome as an underlying pathway linking infant feeding and the development of obesity; and the structural, social and maternal and infant characteristics contributing to the development of an obesogenic environment. I am currently examining the physical and social environments associated with the development of inflammation in Chinese children, adolescents, and adults through an NIH K award.

Relevant Links

Selected Publications:

 (In press) Thompson, AL, LS Adair, and ME Bentley ‘Whatever average is:’ understanding African-American mothers’ perceptions of infant weight, growth and health. Current Anthropology.

2014 Thompson, AL, KM Houck, LS Adair, P Gordon-Larsen, S Du, B Zhang, and BM Popkin. Associations between Pathogenic and Obesogenic Factors and Inflammation in Chinese children, adolescents, and adults. American Journal of Human Biology.  26:18-28.

2013 Thompson, AL and ME Bentley, The critical period of infant feeding for the development of early disparities in obesity. Social Science and Medicine. 97: 288-296.

2013 Thompson, AL Intergenerational impact of maternal obesity and postnatal feeding practices on pediatric obesity. Nutrition Reviews. 71: S55-S61.

2013 Thompson, AL and M Lampl Prenatal and postnatal energetic conditions and sex steroids levels across the first year of life. American Journal of Human Biology. 25:643–654.

2013 Turner, BL and AL Thompson Beyond the Paleolithic Prescription: Incorporating diversity and flexibility in the study of human diet evolution. Nutrition Reviews. 7: 501-510. (lead article)

2013 Thompson, AL, LS Adair and ME Bentley. Pressuring and restrictive feeding styles influence infant feeding and size among a low-income African-American sample. Obesity. 21(3): 532-571.

2013   Thompson, AL, LS Adair, and ME Bentley Maternal characteristics and perception of infant temperament associated with television exposure in African-American infants. Pediatrics 131(2): e390-e397.

2012  Thompson, AL. Developmental origins of obesity: early feeding environments, infant growth and the intestinal microbiome. American Journal of Human Biology. 24(3): 350-360.