Department of Psychology
Education: Ph.D. Florida State University
M.A. Florida State University
B.A. Georgia Southern University
Dr. Thaw specializes in factors regulating eating behaviors working to unravel the questions of how we know when to eat and perhaps more importantly, when to stop eating. "We know so much about the mechanisms underlying hunger and eating, yet we still struggle to find effective methods to reduce our overall consumption," he says, but he is looking into chemicals in the body that communicate with the brain and the stomach and tell the body to stop eating. Dr. Thaw's lab has produced evidence that the role of immune-related factors may be critical in our understanding of appetite and satiety.
Additionally, Dr. Thaw has created a program to help people lose weight in a realistic way. "There is no magic pill," he says, "but we can help people more effectively change their eating behaviors to lose weight." In addition to a peer-assisted weight loss program, Dr. Thaw is conducting research that examines environmental cues and their effects of body weight. Current studies with elementary and high schools have revealed specific factors that may be critical in reducing childhood obesity and disordered eating.
According to Dr. Thaw the focus on environmental cues is the next big thing in weight loss research. While human genetics have not changed much (if at all) over the past 30-40 years, our environment has changed dramatically. Thus, the environment is the obvious place to look for explanations as to why Global obesity rates have doubled since 1980. Thaw concludes, "weight is mostly a matter of calories - as long as you're consuming fewer calories than you are using you will lose weight. People struggle to do this on their own, so perhaps we can adjust the environment in an effort to help."