Dr. Rita DeBate is a Professor in the Department of Community and Family Health at the University of South Florida, College of Public Health. Dr. DeBate’s research interests include adolescent health, positive youth development, women’s health, and secondary prevention of eating disorders.
With regard to adolescent health and positive youth development, Dr. DeBate is the national evaluator for Girls on the Run, a positive youth development program through sport for 3rd-5th grade girls. Through her evaluations she has found consistent improvements among Girls on the Run program participants with regard to self-esteem, body image, commitment to physical activity, and physical activity. She is actively sought out by national and international organizations to present her research on Girls on the Run and speak on issues pertaining to body image, eating disorders, and physical activity among adolescent females. For more information regarding Girls on the Run, please go to http://girlsontherun.org/. For a list of publications from Girls on the Run evaluations, please click on Dr. DeBate’s curriculum vitae. Dr. DeBate is also a Co-Investigator (PI: Buhi) on a grant from the Office of Adolescent Health to evaluate the Teen Outreach Program (TOP), a positive youth development program for 9th grade students to prevent unwanted pregnancies.
With regard to women’s health, Dr. DeBate is the Principal Investigator on a number of National Institute’s of Health (NIH) funded research studies pertaining to secondary prevention of eating disorders. More specifically, her research focuses on increasing the capacity of oral healthcare providers (i.e., dentists and dental hygienists) to identify oral signs of disordered eating behaviors, communicating findings to the patient, providing patient specific care, and referring the patient for treatment. As part of her research, she has developed and evaluated an innovative theory- and web-based training program for dentists and dental hygienists to increase knowledge, skill, and behaviors regarding secondary prevention of eating disorders. She has presented her research at numerous national and international conferences including the annual meetings of the American Public Health Association, Academy for Eating Disorders, Eating Disorders Research Society, and Association for Dental Education and has published numerous peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals. For a list of publications and presentations, please see Dr. DeBate’s curriculum vitae.
In addition to her eating disorders research, Dr. DeBate is the Co-Principal investigator with Dr. Daley on an interdisciplinary women’s health research grant. Through this research Drs. DeBate and Daley are using a team science approach to develop a transdisciplinary paradigm in women’s health research. As part of their study, they have presented at numerous conferences including the 2011 Women’s Health Congress and the American Public Health Association. For more information on the interdisciplinary women’s health research initiative, please contact Dr. DeBate and/or Dr. Daley. Dr. DeBate also participates in other research and training projects in collaboration with USF faculty in anthropology, psychology, and medicine.
In addition to her research, Dr. DeBate is the Director of Doctoral Programs in the College of Public Health and the Graduate Program Director in the Department of Community and Family Health. She teaches both master and doctoral level courses on community health program planning, theory, teaching methods, and public health nutrition. Dr. DeBate is also on the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Health Behavior and is a Fellow of the Academy for Eating Disorders (2011).