University of Southern California
Institute of Health Promotion and Disease PreventionDr. Donna Spruijt-Metz

Adolescent Health/Medical Ethics
Ph.D., Free University, Amsterdam 1996

Dr. Donna Spruijt-Metz is assistant professor of research at the Keck School of Medicine's Department of Preventive Medicine. Her research focuses on pediatric obesity.

Current studies include a longitudinal study of the impact of puberty on insulin dynamics, mood and physical activity in African American and Latina girls (Spruijt-Metz. PI) and another study on the impact of strength and circuit training and nutrition education on metabolic health in African American and Latino youth (Goran, PI). These studies are funded by NCI and are part of the USC C-TREC (Center for Trandisciplinary Research on Energetics and Cancer) - one of 4 TREC centers nationwide. 

A recently completed pilot study looked at the acute impact of simple carbohydrate versus complex carbohydrate meals on behavior, insulin dynamics, select gut peptides, and psychosocial measures in our unique observation laboratory. This study yielded some of the first empirical evidence for the sugar rush, and a full-scale version of this study was recently funded (Spruijt-Metz, PI) as part of our new NCHMD-funded Minority Health Center (Goran, PI).

Spruijt-Metz is currently conducting a study in partnership with University of Minnesota on the longitudinal impact on insulin dynamics, mood and behavior of high sugar versus low sugar breakfasts in overweight Latino populations. We are also interested in how stress affects the lives of adolescents, with a current focus on emotional eating and body image concerns. Intervention modalities that we are exploring with colleagues in Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics include Guided Imagery and motivational interviewing in combination with home-based and group based nutrition and physical activity interventions. Her work is funded by the Baxter Foundation, NIDDK, NIDA, NCCAM, NICHD and NCI.

Dr. Spruijt-Metz holds master's degrees in Flute performance and teaching from California Institute of the Arts and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, a masters degree in Creative Writing from Otis College of Art and Design, a masters degree in research methods from the University of Amsterdam and a Ph.D. in adolescent health from the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam. Before her re-immigration to the United States, she held a tenured position at the Department of Medical Ethics at the Vrije Universitiet Amsterdam, where she studied public health ethics and adolescent obesity-related behaviors. She is also a professional flutist, and has served on the Board of Directors of the Dutch National Flute Association.