Joan Vaccaro, PhD

Adjunct Faculty

Dietetics & Nutrition



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


Dr. Joan A. Vaccaro's research career in nutrition began with cross-sectional studies of health disparities in diet, exercise, medical advice, and related health outcomes. She completed her work as a Co-Investigator in Pilot diet and exercise intervention in older Hispanics with diabetes (2018-2020) 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; Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Dr. Vaccaro is a Co-Investigator for an NIA grant awarded to PI: Dr. Trudy Gaillard, College of Nursing, FIU, in collaboration with the University of Central Florida, and Florida State University.  This grant aims to increase enrollment in health research of older adults from racial/ethnic groups with health disparities (Award# 1R24AG067951-01) (2020-2023).

 Student Engagement Projects: Dr. Vaccaro developed several undergraduate and graduate online courses with projects that include: 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). Dr. Vaccaro is an ongoing instructor for Dual Enrollment students in Principles of Nutrition (HUN2201) helping high school student achieve college credit.


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


Select Publications

Gaillard, T. R., Vaccaro, J. A., Starosciak, A. K, Belnap, S., & De Los Rios La Rosa, F. (2021). Disposition of female stroke patients: the interaction of age and race/ethnicity
Stroke 52 (Suppl_1), A51-A51

Vaccaro, J. A., Gaillard, T. R.  Caceres, S., Hollifield, M. & Huffman, F. (2020). Barriers to participating in diabetes care behaviors in hard-to-reach older Hispanics, Nursing & Primary Care, 4(6). doi: 10.33425/2639-9474.1157

Vaccaro, J. A., Zarini, G. G., & Huffman, F. G. (2019). Parental perceptions of child’s medical care and neighborhood and child’s behavioral risk factors for obesity in U.S. children by body mass index classification, Journal of Environmental and Public Health, 2019, ID 3737194,

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.