Dr. Debra Vinci is the associate professor of health promotion. She currently teaches courses in social marketing, health promotion, and nutrition. Dr. Vinci uses her professional expertise as a community health educator and registered dietitian to prepare students for careers in health promotion. 

Her current research interests focus on using children’s picture books as an innovative approach to increase physical literacy and movement in preschool teachers. Over the past two years, she has worked with Dr. Christopher Wirth in the development of two picture books, Walker Finds His Wiggle and Play the Walker Wiggle Way featuring Abby Fitt that will be used in interventions with preschool teachers to incorporate movement in childcare settings. Prior to working on this project, Dr. Vinci was the co-principal investigator for Let’s Wiggle 5-2-1-0, a program that trains child care providers on ways they can increase physical activity in the classroom setting. 

Dr. Vinci has also worked with community coalitions in promoting their role in obesity prevention. She has helped facilitate community efforts to develop strategies that help at-risk community groups and individuals adopt healthier lifestyle behaviors. Additionally, she has been involved in a childhood hunger task force to increase access to fresh fruits and vegetables to neighborhoods in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties that experience food insecurity at rates higher than national and state averages. This initiative is also interested in linking these neighborhoods with community resources that promote healthy lifestyles and decrease diet-related chronic disease.

In addition to her work on obesity prevention, Dr. Vinci is also involved in program evaluation efforts related to state-wide cancer prevention efforts. 

Before coming to UWF in 2004, she developed health education interventions targeting college-age students and worked as the Director of Health Education at Hall Health at the University of Washington. As a registered dietitian, she spent 15 years working as an outpatient nutritionist with expertise in diabetes education and nutrition therapy with individuals with eating disorders.

Dr. Vinci received a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in human nutrition from University of Vermont, and a doctorate in health education from Loma Linda University. 

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