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Betty Izumi, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D. Profile

Betty Izumi, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D.

Assistant Professor, School of Community Health
Phone: (503)725-5102
Curriculum Vitae 

Betty Izumi, Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D. is an Assistant Professor in the School of Community Health where her research and teaching focus on issues at the intersection of nutrition, sustainability, and health equity.  She has served on faculty since 2010.

Dr. Izumi is both a dietitian and an interventionist who is motivated to help address diet-related chronic diseases and obesity by using a community-based participatory research approach to develop programs that are effective, locally relevant and sustainable.

“It’s easy for all of us to rely on eating processed foods,” explains Izumi. "I try to look for ways to improve access to fresh, whole foods, especially in places where it can be difficult both financially and geographically."

As Project Director and Principal Investigator for Harvest for Healthy Kids, Izumi worked with Mt. Hood Community College Head Start and Early Head Start to design a multi-level program to improve fruit and vegetable intake among low-income, racially/ethnically diverse families. She credits the ongoing commitment by Head Start and Early Head Start administrators and staff to keeping the program going long after the funding has expired.

"The program is changing how families eat," said Izumi. "Some families have even invested in their own gardens or changed how they use and prepare fresh produce."

Together with her colleagues at OHSU, she is involved in a project to engage youth to advocate for healthy snacking zones in and around their schools in rural Union County, Oregon (SNACZ). And she is working with the Center for Alaska Native Health Research and the Yup’ik community along the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta to connect locally harvested fish to schools in this geographically isolated community.

Izumi serves on the advisory boards of Village Gardens and the Chef Ann Foundation. She is a scientific advisory council member for Menus of Change, a national program working to infuse principles of sustainability into the food industry.

Before joining the faculty at PSU, Izumi was a Research Fellow with the W.K. Kellogg Health Scholars Program at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health. She was also an Assistant Professor of Family and Community Development at Oregon State University Extension Service.

Izumi earned her doctorate from Michigan State University and holds both a master’s of public health and registered dietitian credential from the University of California, Berkeley.

As a registered dietitian Izumi finds humor in the fact that most of her work focuses on whole foods instead of nutrients. She shares a favorite quote from Joan Dye Gussow, the “matriarch in the eat-locally-think-globally food movement” (according to the NY Times), as an explanation for this approach:


“I prefer butter to margarine because I trust cows more than chemists.” – Joan Dye Gussow


Select Articles

Izumi, BT, Pickus HA, Contesti, A., Dawson, J. & Bersamin, A. (In Press). Serving Fish in School Meals: Perceptions of School Food Service Professionals in Alaska. Journal of Child Nutrition and Management.

Findholt, NE, Izumi, BT, Nguyen, T, Pickus, HA, & Chen, Z. (2014). Availability of healthy snack foods and beverages in stores near high-income urban, low-income urban, and rural elementary and middles schools in Oregon. Childhood Obesity, 10(4): 324-348.

Izumi, BT, Findholt, NE, Pickus, HA, Cuneo MK,* & Nguyen, T. (2014). Inter-rater reliability of a food store checklist to assess availability of healthier alternatives to the energy-dense snacks and beverages commonly consumed by children. Childhood Obesity, 10(3): 266-271.

Izumi, BT, Peden, AM, Hallman, JA, Barberis D, Stott, B, Nimz, S, Ries, WR & Capello, A. (2013). A community-based participatory research approach to developing the Harvest for Healthy Kids curriculum, Progress in Community Health Partnerships, 7(4): 379-384.

Izumi, BT, Alaimo, K & Hamm, MW. (2010). Farm to School: Perspectives of School Food Service Professionals. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 42: 83-91.


Classes Instructed

Freshman Inquiry (FRINQ) (co-taught with Dr. Crespo and Dr. Gonzales)

This year long course examines health within the context of social and cultural factors, including race/ethnicity and discrimination.. Active and investigative approaches are used to study issues at the intersections of health, the places in which people live and interact, and the physical environment.

PHE 327U Community Nutrition 
This course provides students with an understanding of community nutrition as a career. Course topics include program planning, policies, resources, and issues specific to community nutrition.

PHE 510 Food Systems Sustainability 
This graduate level course examines public health effects of industrial and alternative food systems. Key course themes include: food consumption patterns, health inequities, food insecurity and hunger, healthy food environments.