Fatma Huffman


Department of Dietetics & Nutrition

Email: huffmanf@fiu.edu


Nutrition, Diabetes and Cardiovascular Risks Among Racial/Ethnic Groups


Dr. Fatma Huffman has more than 20 years of experience and expertise in coordinating, managing and conducting research studies at Florida International University (FIU). The focus of her research has consisted of nutrition, diabetes and cardiovascular risks among racial/ethnic groups. She has conducted her investigations by assessing biomedical and nutritional markers and by analyzing the related epidemiological, nutritional and social aspects of chronic diseases.

For the past 10 years, Dr. Huffman’s publication topics have consisted of cardiometabolic risk factors in underserved Blacks and Hispanics with and without type 2 diabetes. She conducted a pilot clinical trial supplementing 4,000 and 6,000 IU/day of vitamin D3 to Hispanics and Blacks with type 2 diabetes. After six months of follow up, she found that an intake of 4,000 IU/day of vitamin D was sufficient to raise plasma levels of vitamin D and lower certain cardiometabolic risk factors.

She has also directed and conducted several research projects at FIU as principal investigator or co-investigator in several previously funded grants. Her NIH-funded grants have been instrumental for her growth as a researcher, helping her achieve her goals and objectives in developing protocols and publications. The NIH grants have allowed her to train a valuable research team of MS and Ph.D. students and staff.

Her current grant applications include food insecurity in Syrian refugees (a collaboration with Canada) and Robert Stempel College of Public Health and Social Work’s Aging Initiative.


The Human Nutrition Laboratory is located in AHC-1 and has equipment to store and assay blood samples, and measure anthropometrics such as blood pressure, percent body fat, height, weight and waist circumference. In the lab, data is collected and generated from interviews and blood work with the goal of assessing dietary and lifestyle risk factors and treatments in vulnerable populations. Data generated includes analysis of vitamins, genetic markers (polymorphisms), inflammatory markers and other dietary-related health markers for different races/ethnicities with diabetes at baseline and intervention time points.


  • Auburn University, M.Sc., Ph.D.
  • University of Ankara, B.Sc.

Publications & Research

Complete List of Published Work: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/1XUcb-72ga- AV/bibliograpahy/47962365/public/?sort=date&direction=ascending

Recent Publications

Vaccaro JA, Huffman FG (2018). Are U.S. consumers using MyPlate and restaurant menu labels and does their use equate with dietary and exercise behavior? Journal of Consumer Behaviour, First published: 30 March 2018, https://doi.org/10.1002/cb.1716 https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cb.1716

Alabdullah G, Vaccaro JA, Abel D, Shaban LH, Huffman FG (2018), Kuwaiti mothers’ perception of their child’s body mass index and their belief in early childhood dietary advice, Current Research in Diabetes & Obesity Journal (CRDO). https://juniperpublishers.com/crdoj/pdf/CRDOJ.MS.ID.555693.pdf

Li M, Campa A, Huffman FG, Rossi AF (2018). Understanding the Impact of Fluid Restriction on Growth Outcomes in Infants Following Cardiac Surgery. Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, 19(2):131-136. doi: 10.1097/PCC.0000000000001408. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29206730

Shaban LH, Vaccaro JA, Sukhram SD, Huffman FG (2018), Do mothers affect daughter’s behaviors? Diet, physical activity, and sedentary behaviors in Kuwaiti mother–daughter dyads. Ecology of Food and Nutrition 57 (2) 109-123 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/03670244.2017.1418337

Huffman FG, Vaccaro JA, Vieira ER, Zarini, GG (2017). Health-related characteristics of older adults who attend congregate meal sites in the United States. Geriatrics, 2, 22. Doi:10.3390/geriatrics2030022. http://www.mdpi.com/2308-3417/2/3/22

Vieira ER, Vaccaro JA, Zarini GG, Huffman, FG (2017). Health indicators of U.S. older adults who received or did not receive meals funded by the Older Americans Act. Journal of Aging Research, Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 2160819, 8 pages. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/2160819

Vaccaro JA, Zarini GG, Huffman FG. (2018). Cross-sectional analysis of unhealthy foods, race/ethnicity, sex, and cardiometabolic risk factors in U.S. adults, Nutrition & Dietetics, accepted for publication, May 15, 2018.

Vaccaro JA, Huffman FG. (2017). Sex and race/ethnic disparities in food security and chronic diseases in U.S. older adults. Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine 3. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/2333721417718344

Lopez J*, Campa A, Huffman FG, Liuzzi JP, Li, T, Martinez AH, et al. (2017) Correlates of Vitamin D Deficiency in South Florida Older Adults. Int J Endocrinology and Metabolic Disorders. Published on line: http://dx.doi.org/10.14283/jpad.2016.114

Vaccaro JA. & Huffman FG. (2016). Cardiovascular endurance, body mass index, physical activity, screen time and carotenoid intake of children: NHANES National Youth Fitness Survey (NNYFS). Journal of Obesity, Volume 2016, Article ID 4897092, 6 pages http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2016/4897092.

Owusu JS., Colecraft EK, Aryeetey R., Vaccaro JA, Huffman FG. (2017). Nutrition intakes and nutritional status of school age children in Ghana. Journal of Food Research, 6(2). Doi: 10.5539/jfr.v6n2p11.

Owusu J, Colecraft E, Aryeetey R, Vaccaro JA, & Huffman FG, (2016). Comparison of Two School Feeding Programs in Ghana, West Africa. International Journal of Child Health and Nutrition, 5 (2) 56-62.

Vaccaro JA, Niego J, & Huffman FG. (2016). Dietary factors, body weight, and screen time in US children with and without asthma. Children’s Health Care 45, (1), 22-28. Retrieved from http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02739615.2014.948165

Barrett S* Ercanli-Huffman F, Johnson P, Campa A, Magnus M, Ragoobirsingh D. (2017). Acanthosis Nigricans: Relation to Risk of Type 2 Diabetes and Cardiovascular Diseases among Jamaican Adolescents. Integrative Food, Nutrition and Metabolism. http://www.oatext.com/pdf/IFNM-3-142.pdf

Dr. Huffman’s early publications presented the issues and barriers faced by Cuban Americans with and without type 2 diabetes for optimal health outcomes. These publications documented cardiovascular risk factors such as key biomarkers, diet, and diabetes prevention for an ethnic minority for whom few studies existed. Below are five studies where she served as primary investigator.

Huffman FG, Whisner S, Zarini GG, Nath S. Waist circumference and BMI in relation to serum high sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP) in Cuban Americans with and without type 2 diabetes. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2010 Mar;7(3):842-52. PubMed PMID: 20617007; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2872322.

Huffman FG, Zarini GG, Cooper V. Dietary glycemic index and load in relation to cardiovascular disease risk factors in Cuban American population. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Nov;61(7):690-701. PubMed PMID: 20528579

Zarini GG, Exebio JC, Gundupalli D, Nath S, Huffman FG. Hypertension, poor glycemic control, and microalbuminuria in Cuban Americans with type 2 diabetes. Int J Nephrol Renovasc Dis. 2011;4:35-40. PubMed PMID: 21694947; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3108791.

Huffman FG, Zarini GG, McNamara E, Nagarajan A. The Healthy Eating Index and the Alternate Healthy Eating Index as predictors of 10-year CHD risk in Cuban Americans with and without type 2 diabetes. Public Health Nutr. 2011 Nov;14(11):2006-14. PubMed PMID: 21729463.

In addition to her contribution to Cuban Americans’ health, Dr. Huffman investigated cardiovascular risk factors that prevented Blacks and Hispanics from having optimal health outcomes. These publications provided health information for Haitian Americans before which little data were available. The findings supported the wide dietary and other health behavior differences between African Americans and Haitian Americans who were often classified as ‘Blacks’ for health studies. She served as primary investigator in all these studies.

Huffman FG, De La Cera M, Vaccaro JA, Zarini GG, Exebio J, Gundupalli D, Shaban L. Healthy Eating Index and Alternate Healthy Eating Index among Haitian Americans and African Americans with and without Type 2 Diabetes. J Nutr Metab. 2011;2011:398324. PubMed PMID: 22187639; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3236495.

Exebio JC, Zarini GG, Vaccaro JA, Exebio C, Huffman FG. Use of hemoglobin A1C to detect Haitian-Americans with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes. Arq Bras Endocrinol Metabol. 2012 Oct;56(7):449-55. PubMed PMID: 23108750.

Vaccaro JA, Huffman FG. Race/ethnicity-, gender- and age-specific differences in micronutrient intakes of US adults with and without diabetes. Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2013 Mar;64(2):175-84. PubMed PMID: 22856382.

Shaban L, Zarini GG, Sukhram, S, Huffman FG. Serum vitamin D insufficiency and diabetes status in three ethnic minority groups. J Immigr Minor Health. Published online 16 May 2012, DOI:10.1007/s10903-012-9634-2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22588624

Psychosocial factors have a consequence on cardiovascular health. Dr. Huffman led research concerning the relationships among perceived stress, self-rated health, diet quality, and sedentary behavior and ethnicity. These studies demonstrate the need and direction for interventions.

Exebio JC, Zarini GG, Exebio C, Huffman FG. Healthy Eating Index scores associated with symptoms of depression in Cuban-Americans with and without type 2 diabetes: a cross sectional study. Nutr J. 2011 Dec 9;10:135. PubMed PMID: 22152160; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3266652.

Huffman FG, Vaccaro JA, Exebio JC, Zarini GG, Katz T, Dixon Z. Television watching, diet quality, and physical activity and diabetes among three ethnicities in the United States. J Environ Public Health. 2012;2012:191465. PubMed PMID: 22851980; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3407635.

Fatma HG, Vaccaro, JA, Ajabshir S, Gustavo ZG, Exebio J, Dixon Z. Perceived stress and self-rated health of Haitian and African Americans with and without Type 2 diabetes. J Res Med Sci. 2013 Mar;18(3):198-204. PubMed PMID: 23930115; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3732899.

Zarini GG, Vaccaro JA, Canossa Terris MA, Exebio JC, Tokayer L, Antwi J, Ajabshir S, Cheema A, Huffman FG. Lifestyle behaviors and self-rated health: the living for health program. J Environ Public Health. 2014;2014:315042. PubMed PMID: 25530764; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4228703.

The next area of her research focuses on racial/ethnic differences in medical advice and self-care. These studies emphasize the need for considering race/ethnicity when developing policy or clinical guideline changes. She was primary or co-investigator for these publications

Vaccaro JA, Huffman FG. Relationship of Lifestyle Medical Advice and Non-HDL Cholesterol Control of a Nationally Representative US Sample with Hypercholesterolemia by Race/Ethnicity. Cholesterol. 2012;2012:916816. PubMed PMID: 23119150; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3478696.

Vaccaro JA, Feaster DJ, Lobar SL, Baum MK, Magnus M, Huffman FG. Medical advice and diabetes self-management reported by Mexican-American, Black- and White-non-Hispanic adults across the United States. BMC Public Health. 2012 Mar 12;12:185. PubMed PMID: 22410191; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3362774.

Vaccaro JA, Huffman FG. Reducing health disparities: medical advice received for minorities with diabetes. J Health Hum Serv Adm. 2012 Spring;34(4):389-417. PubMed PMID: 22530284.

Vaccaro JA, Huffman FG. Gender differences in medical advice and health behavior of obese African Americans with and without type 2 diabetes. Am J Mens Health. 2012 Sep;6(5):383-94. PubMed PMID: 22691306.