Jennifer Black

Associate Professor

Research Classification

Research Interests

Community Health / Public Health
food banks
food environments
Public health
school food environments
social determinants of health

Relevant Degree Programs


Research Methodology

survey research
community-based research


Master's students
Doctoral students
Postdoctoral Fellows
I support public scholarship, e.g. through the Public Scholars Initiative, and am available to supervise students and Postdocs interested in collaborating with external partners as part of their research.
I support experiential learning experiences, such as internships and work placements, for my graduate students and Postdocs.

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Great Supervisor Week Mentions

Each year graduate students are encouraged to give kudos to their supervisors through social media and our website as part of #GreatSupervisorWeek. Below are students who mentioned this supervisor since the initiative was started in 2017.


Jennifer has been an amazing supervisor and mentor. She truly exemplifies what it means to be a woman in academia and reach a work-life/family balance. I feel honored to have been her first PhD student and hope I can serve as an example like her in the future.

Claire Tugault-Lafleur (2019)


Jennifer is a wonderful mentor and supervisor. Her commitment and energy to her students is beyond compare, and she always makes time for our needs and for us has people before students. She effortlessly advocates for our needs and makes us a priority in every interaction. Jennifer is prompt and thoughtful in her feedback, and she is always looking to improve our work for our own goals. Her critical questions and lenses always pushes me to think more about my work and deeply about every choice through my degree. She demonstrates admirable work-life balance and is aware of our needs and timelines as well. I cannot speak highly enough of Jennifer and all that she has done for me in my time here at UBC!

Rachel Mazac (2019)


Graduate Student Supervision

Doctoral Student Supervision (Jan 2008 - Nov 2020)
Examining school day dietary quality: an analysis of national dietary data from the 2004 and 2015 Canadian Community Health Surveys (2018)

Schools have the potential to contribute to obesity prevention by promoting healthy eating and physical activity. Since 2004, ten Canadian provinces have created policies regarding foods and beverages that can be offered in schools, yet little is known about what Canadian children eat and drink at school, the sources of the foods and beverages consumed, and how children’s dietary quality has changed, if at all, over the last decade. Drawing from nationally representative dietary surveys, this thesis includes three studies aimed at filling knowledge gaps regarding Canadian children’s dietary quality on school days. The first study characterised the dietary contributions of foods consumed during school hours relative to the overall diet, and sociodemographic factors associated with school hour dietary quality. In 2004, children age 6-17 years consumed approximately one-third of their daily calories during school hours, but energy-adjusted intake of milk products and key nutrients (for example, calcium and vitamin D) was relatively lower during school hours compared to non-school hours. Meanwhile, the school hour contribution from minimally nutritious foods was higher than the average school hour energy contribution. Differences in diet quality scores were poorly explained by sociodemographic factors, although school hour dietary quality differed by age group and province of residence. The second study evaluated associations between lunch-time food source and children’s dietary quality. In 2004, 73% of children reported bringing lunch from home, with few students obtaining lunch off-campus or at school. Children consuming foods from home had more favourable nutrient intake profiles compared to children obtaining foods off-campus. However, regardless of lunch-time food source, the quality of foods consumed was, on average, sub-optimal in relation to national dietary guidance. The third study assessed changes in dietary quality of Canadian children from 2004 to 2015. Average self-reported dietary quality of Canadian children during school hours and on school days improved modestly but remained below national dietary standards. More effective efforts are needed to improve Canadian children’s dietary quality. Initiatives that focus on increasing the consumption of vegetables, whole fruit, whole grains and dairy products have the potential to improve Canadian children’s dietary quality.

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Master's Student Supervision (2010 - 2018)
Food insecurity in Greater Vancouver: a mixed methods exploratory study with food bank members (2017)

Background: Household food insecurity (HFI), defined as limited access to adequate, safe, and nutritious food, was estimated to affect 13% of Canadian households in 2012. In Canada, one of the primary efforts to support food insecure households are food banks. Although food bank use is on the rise in Canada, few studies have described the diverse experiences of individuals who use them. This study examined characteristics and experiences of food bank users, including socio-demographic characteristics, severity of HFI, patterns of food bank use, and current challenges and preferences for services. Methods: This mixed-methods study involved interviewer-administered surveys (n=77) and 5 focus groups (n=27) with food bank members from Vancouver, BC. Surveys assessed socio-demographic and health characteristics, food bank use, and satisfaction with services. Focus groups examined experiences, challenges, and recommendations for improving services. Survey analyses included descriptive statistics and Fisher’s exact tests to explore associations with severe HFI. Thematic analysis was used for focus group data. Results: Inadequate income emerged as the most prominent factor influencing food bank use. Survey respondents reported severe food insecurity (66%), health challenges (77%), reliance on social assistance (84%), and long-term (>5 years) food bank use (54%). Monthly income level ($500) were significantly associated with severe HFI (p
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Participation in School Food and Nutrition Programs and Associations with Dietary Psychosocial and Behavioural Outcomes among Vancouver Students in Grades 6-8 (2014)

Background: Diet-related health conditions, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, are a growing concern among Canadian youth. In Canada, there is also a rising interest in the impact of dietary choices on environmental sustainability. Several school food and nutrition programs (SFNPs) have been implemented to improve dietary quality and environmental sustainability, including gardening and food preparation programs. However, limited research has examined the links between participation in SFNPs and dietary psychosocial and behavioural outcomes. Purpose: To examine healthy and environmentally sustainable dietary attitudes, expectations, choices, and practices, and current participation rates in SFNPs among Vancouver students in grades 6-8, and to evaluate whether participation in SFNPs is associated with these outcomes.Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in 26 schools in Vancouver from March-June, 2012 (n=937 students). Schools were selected using non-probability sampling. A web-based survey, including a food frequency questionnaire, measured student demographic characteristics, participation in SFNPs, and dietary psychosocial and behavioural outcomes. Rao-Scott corrected chi-square tests were applied to assess associations between SFNPs and outcomes (p
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A temporal analysis of Canadian dietary choices using the Canadian community health survey cycle 2.2: Does nutrient intake and diet quality vary on weekends versus weekdays? (2013)

Since dietary intake varies from day to day, research on the timing of dietary behaviours is essential for understanding the complexity of contemporary dietary patterns needed to inform nutrition-related health policies and recommendations. Limited studies with inconsistent results have suggested that dietary intake differs on weekends versus weekdays. Although findings from outside of Canada have previously reported that energy intake is higher on weekend days, the nature of weekday-weekend variation in dietary intake among Canadians remains unknown. In response, this study evaluated the difference in energy, nutrient intake and diet quality on weekdays versus weekend days in the Canadian population and whether temporal differences were moderated by sex, age or employment status. Data were analyzed from participants aged >1 year, excluding pregnant or breastfeeding women (n=34,402) in the Canadian Community Health Survey Cycle 2.2, a nationally representative survey which included 24-hour dietary recall data. Linear regression models examined the difference in energy intake, nutrient intake and diet quality (assessed using Healthy Eating Index [HEI]) between weekdays (Monday-Thursday) and weekend days (Friday-Sunday). Caloric intake was found to be 62 kcal (SE = 23) higher on weekend days than on weekdays. Compared to weekdays, energy-adjusted weekend intakes of carbohydrates, protein, and the majority of micronutrients were significantly lower, ranging from 2.0% to 6.6% lower, while alcohol and cholesterol intakes were 66% and 10% higher on weekends, respectively. HEI was significantly lower on weekends than on weekdays (56.4 vs. 58.3 out of 100). With the exception of alcohol, the magnitude of weekday-weekend differences of most of the dietary outcomes did not differ substantially by sex, age or employment status. In conclusion, Canadians consume foods with a slightly less favorable nutrient profile and marginally poorer diet quality on weekends than on weekdays.

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Examining the associations between socioeconomic status and school-day dietary intake among Vancouver children and adolescents (2013)

Background: The majority of Canadian children and adolescents (9 to 18 years old) are not meeting Canada’s Food Guide recommendations for healthy eating. Moreover, evidence suggests that SES and dietary quality are positively associated. Yet little is known about the influence of parents, peers, and food purchasing practices on the associations between SES and dietary intake or about whether these associations are pertinent in the school context. The primary objective of this study is therefore to explore associations between SES and school-day dietary intake among Vancouver youth, before and after controlling for psychosocial factors and food purchasing practices. Methods: In 2012, grade 5-8 students (n=950 from 26 schools) completed a school-based survey and reported school-day intake of vegetables, whole grains, low fat milk, packaged snack foods, and sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB). Multivariate logistic regression examined associations between parent education and food security status with dietary intake, before and after controlling for peer modeling and parental normative beliefs of dietary intake, and frequency of purchasing food on school days. Results: Compared to students whose parents completed high school or less, students whose parents completed some college were significantly more likely to consume vegetables daily on school days (unadjusted OR=1.85, 95% CI=1.06, 3.22). Compared to food insecure students, food secure students were significantly less likely to consume SSB daily on school days (unadjusted OR=0.51, 95% CI=0.28, 0.93). Both vegetable and SSB intake were not significantly associated with SES measures in final adjusted models. In adjusted models, compared to students whose parents completed high school or less, students whose parents completed college or university were significantly less likely to consume packaged snacks daily on school days (adjusted OR=0.61, 95% CI=0.42, 0.90). Parent education and food security status were not significantly associated with the remaining dietary intake outcomes. Conclusions: SES was significantly associated with three of five dietary outcomes; however, we did not find that either SES measure was consistently a significant determinant of dietary intake across foods categories. Overall, there is room for improvement in dietary intake of Vancouver children and adolescents on school days and school nutrition interventions would benefit all students.

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News Releases

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