McMaster University

McMaster University



Stephanie Atkinson

Stephanie Atkinson, PhD

Associate Member
Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences

Professor, Pediatrics

3A44 Health Sciences Centre
McMaster University
905-521-2100 ext. 75644

Pediatric Web page: //



  • Perinatal programming especially related to nutrition and exercise as determinants of adult disease
  • Vitamin D and bone metabolism

Dr. Atkinson’s research program is focused on developmental programming as influenced by environmental exposures (such as nutrition, physical activity, stress) during fetal, neonatal and early childhood life, which may program metabolic regulation thereby altering normal growth, body composition and risk of major non-communicable diseases in childhood and adult life.

Current research encompasses clinical trial and epidemiological investigations of the environmental (nutrition), genetic and biochemical factors during fetal, neonatal and early childhood life that play a role in defining the offspring phenotype and as risk determinants for non-communicable diseases. In a prospective, longitudinal birth cohort study children are followed from pregnancy to 10 years of age with the objective of elucidating the early determinants of obesity, diabetes, and risk of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. She leads a multi-disciplinary team of researchers in the conduct of randomized clinical intervention trials of nutrition and exercise in pregnancy (named B-HIP – Be Healthy in Pregnancy), designed to reduce excess gestational weight gain and to optimize maternal and child health outcomes including bone health. Research facilities include wet laboratory based investigations for analysis of biomarkers of nutritional status and metabolism and measures of bone and body composition using dual energy x-ray absorptiometry and bioimpedence; as well as dry lab space for conduct of physical anthropometry and other clinical measures.Collaborative research with colleagues has allowed expansion of investigations to include the impact of nutrition on the microbiome in pregnancy and infancy and neurobehavioural outcomes in the offspring.

Dr. Atkinson is active in training of graduate students and clinician scientists through her position as McMaster Centre Leader for the Canadian Child Health Clinician Scientist Program(CCHCSP) and Faculty in McMaster Medical Sciences Graduate Program. She serves in national and international leadership roles as Chair of the Institute Advisory Board of the Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR); Chair of the Board of Directors of the Maternal, Infant, Child and Youth Health Research Network (MICYRN); member of the Scientific Advisory Council for Osteoporosis Canada; and Executive of the Board of Trustees of the North American International Life Sciences Institute (Washington, DC). She is also an invited consultant on various Expert Advisory Committees for Health Canada and the National Institutes of Health in the USA.

Selected Publications

  • Josse AR, Atkinson SA, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips S. Increased consumption of dairy foods and protein during diet- and exercise-induced weight loss promotes fat mass loss and lean mass gainin overweight and obese premenopausal women. J Nutr. 2011;141(9):1626-34
  • Josse AR, Atkinson SA, Tarnopolsky MA, Phillips SM. Diets higher in dairy and total dietary protein during diet- and exercise-induced weight loss preserve bone health in overweight and obese young women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2012;97(1):251-60
  • Atkinson SA. Impact of Pregnancy Nutrition on Offspring Bone Development. In: Gussler J, Graham MA, eds. Pregnancy Nutrition and Later Health Outcomes: Report of the 112th Abbott Nutrition Research Conference. Columbus, OH: Abbott Nutrition; 2012:97-109.
  • Joly MP, Boivin M, Junker A, Bocking A, Kramer MS, Atkinson SA. An inventory of Canadian pregnancy and birth cohort studies: research in progress. BMC PregnancyChildbirth. 2012; 12:117.
  • Morrison KM, Anand SS, Yusuf S, Atkinson SA, Schulze KM, et al. Maternal and Pregnancy Related Predictors of Cardiometabolic Traits in Newborns. PLoS ONE 2013; 8(2): e55815.
  • Walji R, Wahoush O, Atkinson SA. Feasibility and Acceptance of a Novel Nutrition and Exercise Intervention to Manage Excess Gestational Weight Gain: Focus group study in Ontario, Canada. Primary Health Care. 2013 3:134.
  • Rodrigopulle DJ, Atkinson SA. Validation of surrogate limb analysis for body composition in children by DXA. Eur J Clin Nutr; 2014:68(6):653-7.
  • Doubelt I, Totosy de Zepetnek J, MacDonald MJ, Atkinson SA. Influences of nutrition and adiposity on bone mineral density in individuals with chronic spinal cord injury: A cross-sectional, observational study. J.Bonr. 2015;2352-1872(2):26-31.
  • Liu M1, Gillis LJ, Persadie NR, Atkinson SA, Phillips SM, Timmons BW. Effects of short-term exercise training with and without milk intake on cardiometabolic and inflammatory adaptations in obese adolescents. Pediatr Exerc Sci. 2015 Aug 3. [Epub ahead of print]
  • Dr. Atkinson's PubMed site
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