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Joan A. Vaccaro

Adjunct Lecturer and Research Scientist

Dietetics & Nutrition



Diet and exercise behaviors and their interrelationships with sociodemographics and chronic diseases


Dr. Vaccaro’s research career in nutrition began with cross-sectional studies of health disparities in diet, exercise, medical advice, and related health outcomes. This research led to working with a team in designing interventions aimed to improve health in community-dwelling Hispanic and African American older adults. She is a Research Scientist on the Wertheim Endowed Innovation Fund study entitled, Pilot diet and exercise intervention in older Hispanics with diabetes (2018-2020). This grant is a collaboration of Colleges: Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing Departments of Physical Therapy and Nursing; Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work, Department of Dietetics; and, the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine.

Student Engagement Projects: Dr. Vaccaro developed several undergraduate and graduate online courses collaboratively with other faculty members. She is currently enhancing her courses to facilitate an interactive environment online and in the field. Past field experiences included: 1) interviewing older adults for psychological, physical, social, and environmental enablers and barriers to healthy eating and exercise (HUN6435, Nutrition and Aging); and, 2) observing environmental and menu practices in restaurants that have been shown to lead to obesity and proposing economically feasible strategies to reverse this trend (HUN6522, Public Health Nutrition). Ongoing projects for 2019-2020 include: 1) Incorporation of COIL –Collaborative Online International Learning for classes of public health nutrition (HUN6522) and ecology of diet classes in a Mexican University; 2) Student participation in the development, delivery, and evaluation of a client-generated nutrition intervention for seniors at community centers (HUN6435); and, 3) invitation to participate in ARC, new pilot tool for Canvas for Dual Enrollment students enrolled in Principles of Nutrition  (HUN2201) (Spring, 2019). Successful incorporation of this tool will provide high school students with a more dynamic interactive online learning environment.


  • Florida International University, Ph.D.
  • Queens College, CUNY, MA
  • Iona College, BA


Select Publications

Vaccaro, J. A., Zarini, G. G., & Huffman, F. G. (2018). Cross-sectional analysis of unhealthy foods, race/ethnicity, sex, and cardiometabolic risk factors in U.S. adults, Nutrition & Dietetics, 2018 Jun 17. doi: 10.1111/1747-0080.12439. [Epub ahead of print]

Huffman, F. G., Vaccaro, J. A., Zarini, G. G., & Vieira, E. R. (2018). Osteoporosis, active daily living skills, quality of life and dietary patterns of congregate meal participants. Geriatrics, 3(2), 24,

Vaccaro, J. A. & Huffman, F. G.  (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, DOI: 10.1002/cb.1716 First published: 30 March 2018.

Vieira, E. R., Vaccaro, J. A., Zarini, G. G. & Huffman, F. G. (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.

Huffman, F. G., Vaccaro, J. A., Vieira, E. R., & Zarini, G. G. (2017). Health-related characteristics of older adults who attend congregate meal sites in the United States. Geriatrics, 2, 22. Doi:10.3390/geriatrics2030022.

Vaccaro, J. A. & Huffman, F. G (2017). Sex and race/ethnic disparities in food security and chronic diseases in U.S. older adults. Journal of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, 3. DOI:

Vaccaro, J. A. & Huffman, F. G. (2017). Sex and race/ethnicity differences in following dietary and exercise recommendations for U.S. representative sample of adults with type 2 diabetes. American Journal of Men’s Health, 11(2). Doi: 10.1177/1557988316681126.

Vaccaro, J. A. & Huffman, F. G. (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. Doi: 10.1155/2016/4898092.