Heather J. Leidy

Educational Background

  • B.S., Biology (wth Teaching Certification) at Shippensburg University in 1996
  • M.S., Physiology at Penn State University in 2000
  • Ph.D., Physiology (emphasis in nutritional endocrinology & metabolism) at Penn State University in 2004
  • Post-Doc, Ingestive Behavior Research Center and Department of Nutrition Science at Purdue University in 2007

Dissertation Title

The role of circulating ghrelin in the regulation of energy homeostasis in normal weight, healthy young women. 

Awards & Honors

  • Maxine Seabaugh Schade Nutritional Sciences Outstanding Faculty Scholar Award from Dept. of Nutrition & Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri, 2015
  • The Mead Johnson Nutrition Award to Young Investigators In Recognition of Outstanding Research in Environmental & Nutritional Physiology from the American Society of Nutrition, 2015
  • Dorsett L. Spurgeon MD Distinguished Medical Research Award for high-caliber research and scholarship by emerging scientific leaders at the University of Missouri, School of Medicine, 2014

  • Margaret Flynn Award for Women’s Research examining the benefits of Eggs from University of Missouri, 2011
  • National Institutes of Health-Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health Scholar Program Award, 2009-2010

Activities & Memberships

  • Director, American Society of Nutrition (ASN) Research Interest Section (RIS), 2017-2019
  • Director, Clinical Research Center and Bionutrition Services Core, Purdue University (from NIH-supported Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute), 2016-2017

  • Scientific Advisor, International Food Information Council (IFIC), 2014-present
  • Food Science Communicator, Institutes of Food Technology (IFT), 2014-present

  • ASN-EMM and Obesity RIS Abstract Review, 2012-present
  • Chair, ASN Energy and Macronutrient Metabolism (EMM)-RIS, 2012-2014


Obesity, and the health complications associated with this epidemic, continues to negatively affect the lives of American young people.  In particular, the increased prevalence of obesity is accompanied by an increase in type 2 diabetes, which is now one of the most common chronic diseases among children and adolescents.  One of the primary obesity contributors includes the food-centric environment containing easy access to highly palatable, energy dense, but nutrient-poor foods which leads to overeating and weight gain - particularly in young people.  Thus, it is essential to develop successful strategies that target weight and glycemic control to reverse the obesity epidemic and prevent or delay serious health complications.

Substantial evidence exists supporting the consumption of increased dietary protein to prevent and/or treat obesity through improvements in weight management and glycemic control.  The effectiveness of these diets may be due, in part, to modulations in energy metabolism, appetite, and energy intake.  Thus, my research group examines the effects of protein quantity, quality, and timing of consumption on the physiological (i.e., energy-sensing) and hedonic (i.e., reward-driven) signals that modulate appetite, satiety, and food motivation in overweight/obese young people.  More recently, we have begun to extend these findings to include key health outcomes such as weight management, glycemic control, and cardio-metabolic health.

Our primary nutrition emphasis areas attempt to answer the following questions:  1) Is there an optimal amount of protein (i.e., a protein threshold)/eating occasion required to achieve satiety and improve food intake regulation; 2) Does protein quality (animal vs. plant proteins) influence satiety and are there specific amino acids that serve as nutrient-triggers; and 3) Does increased dietary protein at breakfast lead to improved weight management through improved satiety, reduced food cravings, and improved glycemic control?  We are recently become interested in the connection between breakfast consumption, circadian rhythms, and sleep behavior.

To answer these questions we have developed and/or incorporate the following procedures within our human clinical studies:  repeated blood sampling of the gut-derived appetite and satiety hormones and plasma amino acid analyses; food-cue stimulated functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans, ipod appetite apps, all-you-can-eat snack packouts, DXA, continuous glucose monitoring, actigraphy (with sleep assessments), post-prandial energy expenditure, etc.

This body of research provides novel, relevant, and practical evidence supporting the consumption of increased, high quality protein, particularly at breakfast, as a key dietary strategy for improvements in appetite, satiety, glycemic control, and weight management in young people.  The knowledge gained from these studies will determine mechanisms by which a protein-rich breakfast may play a role in the treatment of obesity and prevention of type 2 diabetes in young people.  

Discovery Publications

  • Leidy, H.J., Gwin, J.A., Roenfeldt, C.A., Zino, A.Z., Shafer, R.S. (2016) Evaluating the intervention-based evidence surrounding the causal role of breakfast on markers of weight management-with specific focus on breakfast composition and size. Advances in Nutrition. May 7:563S-575S.
  • Phillips, S., Chevalier, S., Leidy, H.J.. (2016) Protein ‘requirements’ beyond the RDA:  implications for optimizing health. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. May:41(5):565-72.
  • Dhillon, J., Craig, B.A., Leidy, H.J., Amankwaah, A.F., Anguah, K.O., Jacobs, A.G., Jones, B.L., Jones, J., Keeler, C.L., Keller, C.E., McCrory, M.A., Rivera, R.L., Slebodnik, M., Mattes, R.D., Tucker, R.M. (2016) The effects of increased protein intake on fullness: a meta-analysis and its limitations. J Acad Nutr Diet. Jun:116(6):968-83.
  • Leidy, H.J., Clifton, P.M., Astrup, A., Wycherley, T.P., Westerterp-Plantenga, M.S., Luscombe-Marsh, N.D., Woods, S.C., Mattes, R.D. (2015) The Role of Protein in Weight Loss and Maintenance: Symposium Proceedings, Invited Review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. April 29,2015; doi:  10.3945/ajcn.114.084038.
  • Zhang, S., Leidy, H.J., Vardhanabhuti, B. (2015) Protein beverage vs. protein gel on appetite control and subsequent food intake in healthy adults.  Nutrients. 7(10):8700–8711; doi:10.3390/nu7105421.
  • Leidy, H.J., Hoertel, J.A., Douglas, S.M., Higgins, K.A., Shafer, R.S. (2015) A protein breakfast reduces daily intake, hunger, and prevents body fat gain in overweight ‘breakfast skipping’ adolescents. Obesity. Sept 23(9):1761-4.
  • Bauer, L.B., Reynolds, L.J., Douglas, S.M., Kearney, M.L., Hoertel, H.A., Shafer, R.S., Thyfault, J.P., Leidy, H.J. (2015) A pilot study examining the effects of consuming a high-protein vs. normal-protein breakfast on free-living glycemic control in overweight/obese ‘breakfast skipping’ adolescents. International Journal of Obesity. Sept 39(9):1421-4.
  • Leidy, H.J., Todd, C.B., Zino, A.Z., Immel, J.E., Mukherjea, R., Shafer, R.S., Ortinau, L.C., Braun, M. (2015) Consuming high protein soy snacks affects appetite control, satiety, and  diet quality in young people and influences select aspects of mood and cognition. Journal of Nutrition. Jul 145(7):1614-22.
  • Douglas, S.M., Lasley, T.R., Leidy, H.J. (2015) Consuming beef vs. soy protein has little effect on appetite, satiety, and food intake in healthy adults. Journal of Nutrition. May 145(5):1010-6.
  • Alwattar, A.Y., Thyfault, J.P., Leidy, H.J. (2015) The effect of breakfast type and frequency of consumption on glucose metabolism in overweight/obese late adolescent girls. European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Aug 69(8):885-90.
  • Rains, T.M., Leidy, H.J., Sanoshy, K.R., Lawless, A., Maki, K.C. (2015) A Randomized, Controlled, Crossover Trial to Assess the Acute Appetitive and Metabolic Effects of Sausage and Egg-based Convenience Breakfast Meals in Overweight Premenopausal Women. Nutrition Journal. 14(17).
  • Park, Y.M., Heden, T., Liu, Y., Nyhoff, L., Thyfault, J.P., Leidy, H.J., Kanaley, J. (2015) A high-protein breakfast induces greater insulin and glucose-dependent insulinotripic peptide responses to a subsequent lunch meal in individuals with Type 2 diabetes. Journal of Nutrition. 145(3):452-458.
  • Reynolds, L.J., Credeur, D.P., Holwerda, S.W., Leidy, H.J., Fadel, P.J., Thyfault, J.P. (2015) Acute inactivity impairs glycemic control but not blood flow to glucose ingestion.  Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 47(5):1087-94.
  • Paddon-Jones, D. and Leidy, H.J. (2014) Protein and muscle in older persons. Invited Review. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 17:5-11.
  • Ortinau, J.C., Hoertel, H.A., Douglas, S.M., Leidy, H.J. (2014) Effects of higher protein vs. higher fat snacks on appetite control, satiety, and eating initiation in healthy women. Nutrition Journal. 13(97).
  • Hoertel, H.A., Will, M.J., Leidy, H.J. (2014) A randomized crossover, pilot study examining the effects of a normal protein vs. high protein breakfast on food cravings and reward signals in overweight/obese "breakfast skipping," late-adolescent girls.  Nutrition Journal. 13(80).
  • Oberlin, D.J., Mikus, C.R., Kearney, M.L., Hinton, P.S., Manrique, C., Leidy, H.J., Kanaley, J.A., Rector, R.S., Thyfault, J.P. (2014) One bout of exercise alters free-living postprandial glycemia in Type 2 Diabetes. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise. 46(2):232-238.
  • Leidy, H.J. (2013) The Benefits of Breakfast Consumption to Combat Obesity and Diabetes in Young People. Invited Review. American Jouranl of Lifestyle Medicine. 7(2):98-104. 
  • Ortinau, L.C., Culp, J.M., Hoertel, H.A., Douglas, S.M., Leidy, H.J. (2013) The effects of increased dietary protein in afternoon yogurt snacks on appetite control and eating initiation in healthy women. Nutrition Journal. 12(71).
  • Leidy, H.J., Ortinau, L.C., Douglas, S.M., Hoertel, H.A. (2013) Benefits of a protein-rich breakfast on the appetitive, hormonal, and neural signals controlling energy intake regulation to combat obesity in late-adolescent females. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 97(4):677-88.
  • Douglas, S.M., Ortinau, L.C., Hoertel, H.A., Leidy, H.J. (2013) Low, moderate, or high protein yogurt snacks on appetite control and subsequent eating in healthy women. Appetite. 60:117-122.
  • Leidy, H.J., Lepping, R.J., Savage, C.R., Harris, C.T. (2011) Neural responses to visual food stimuli after normal vs. higher protein breakfast in breakfast-skipping teens-a pilot fMRI study. Obesity. 19(10):2019-2025.
  • Leidy, H.J., Bales-Voelker, L.I., Harris, C.T. (2011) A protein-rich beverage consumed as a breakfast meal leads to weaker appetitive and dietary responses than a solid breakfast meal in adolescents. British Journal Obesity. 106(1):37-41.
  • Leidy, H.J., Tang, M., Armstrong, C.L.H., Martin, C.B., Campbell, W.W. (2011) The effects of consuming frequent, higher protein meals on appetite and satiety during weight loss in overweight/obese men. Obesity. 19 (4):818-824.
  • Laan, D.J., Leidy, H.J., Lim, E., Campbell, W.W. (2010) Effects and reproducibility of aerobic and resistance exercise on appetite and energy intake in young physically active adults. Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 35:842-847.
  • Leidy, H.J., Armstrong, C.L.H., Tang, M., Mattes, R.D., Campbell, W.W. (2010) The influence of higher protein intake and greater eating frequency on appetite control in overweight and obese men. Obesity. 18(9):1725-1732.
  • Leidy, H.J. and Racki, E.M. (2010) The addition of a protein-rich breakfast and its effects on acute appetite control and food intake in `breakfast-skipping' adolescents. International Journal of Obesity. 34(7):1125-1133.
  • Leidy, H.J., Apolzan, J.W., Mattes, R.D., Campbell, W.W. (2010) Food form and portion size affect postprandial appetite sensations and hormonal responses in healthy, non-obese, older adults. Obesity. 18(2):293-299.
  • Leidy, H.J., Bossingham, M.J., Carnell, N.S., Mattes, R.D., Campbell, W.W. (2009) Increased dietary protein consumed at breakfast leads to an immediate and sustained feeling of fullness during energy restriction compared to other meal times. British Journal of Nutrition. 101:798-803.
  • Leidy, H.J., Carnell, N.S., Mattes, R.D., Campbell, W.W. (2007) Higher protein intake preserves lean mass & satiety with weight loss in pre-obese & obese women. Obesity. 15:421-429.
  • Leidy, H.J., Mattes, R.D., Campbell, W.W. (2007) Effects of acute & chronic protein intake on metabolism, appetite & ghrelin during weight loss. Obesity. 15:1215-25.
  • Leidy, H.J., Dougherty, K.A., Frye, B.R., Duke, K.M., Williams, N.I. (2007) Twenty-four-hour ghrelin is elevated after calorie restriction and exercise training in non-obese women. Obesity. 15:446-455.
  • Leidy, H.J., Gardner, J.K., Frye, B.R., Snook, M.L., Schuchert, M.K., Richard, E.L., Williams, N.I. (2004) Circulating Ghrelin is Sensitive to Changes in Body Weight during a Diet and Exercise Program in Normal Weight Young Women.  Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism: Special Thematic Issue. 89:2659-2664.



Heather Leidy
Associate Professor 

Office: STON 205
Phone: 765.496.0184
Cell: 573.825.2620
E-Mail: hleidy@purdue.edu 

Mailing Address:
Dept. of Nutrition Science
Purdue University
700 W. State Street
Stone Hall, Room G-1
West Lafayette, IN  47907

Department of Nutrition Science, 700 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2059(765) 494-8228, Fax: (765) 494-0674

© 2016 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints | Maintained by: Nutrition Science

If you have trouble accessing this page because of a disability, please contact Purdue Marketing and Media at marketing@purdue.edu.