Recent URI alumna co-authors journal article

Westerly native advocates for tax on sugary beverages

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Megan Fallon

KINGSTON, R.I., May 10, 2017 — Megan Fallon’s goal as a registered dietitian is to steer food policy toward better nutrition and health-related outcomes.

“I picture myself working for a government or non-profit agency on current food policies, helping to shape the food environments we live in,” said Fallon, who is completing an internship with food service giant Sodexo. She hopes to be a pioneer as a dietitian and advocate.

The Westerly native who now lives in Coventry is well on her way after receiving her master’s degree in nutrition and food sciences in May 2016 from the University of Rhode Island’s College of Health Sciences, part of the Academic Health Collaborative.

In March, Fallon was a co-author of a Society of Behavioral Medicine position statement advocating the effectiveness of an added tax on sugar-sweetened beverages. The authors’ research found that the tax is effective to reduce excessive sugar consumption, prevent chronic disease and reduce health disparities.

Fallon took an unusual path to published author. She originally chose to research sugar-sweetened beverage taxing for a paper assigned as part of a social and health care policy course she took through the College of Nursing in spring 2016. That April, she attended the Society of Behavioral Medicine conference in Washington, D.C., and enrolled in a workshop on how to write a policy brief. “I was just there to strengthen the paper,” Fallon said, but her idea for a policy brief on taxing sugar-sweetened beverages sparked interest.

Impressed with her work, Daniel Taber, assistant professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences at the University of Texas, suggested they collaborate. Taber became lead author on the position statement and brought in other experts.

“I was shooting for the stars,” Fallon said of co-authoring the piece with seasoned professionals. And now she knows her aim was true.