A photo of Kristen Copeland.

Kristen A. Copeland, MD

  • Director, NRSA General Pediatrics Research Fellowship
  • Attending Physician, Division of General and Community Pediatrics
  • Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



Kristen A. Copeland, MD, is a general pediatrician and a child health researcher. Her research interests are in early education settings—how the child care environment affects children’s health. In the past she has focused on child care illness policies and the temporary exclusion of children from child care settings due to illness. She studied how exclusion decisions are influenced by personal beliefs and whether they comply with national guidelines. Her research has been published in peer-reviewed literature and covered extensively by the press, including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN, and Parents Magazine.

More recently, Dr. Copeland has become interested in the opportunities child care settings offer for disease prevention and health promotion, in particular for preventing childhood obesity. Her research, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, will identify the key aspects of the child care center environment—such as physical activity policies, amount and design of playground facilities, menu content, and staff attitudes and behavior that effectively promote children’s physical activity and a balanced dietary intake. The goal of her research is to produce new knowledge than can inform the development of evidence-based policies and practices for child care centers that promote active play, improve children’s diets and foster the development of lifelong healthy habits.

Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, Dr. Copeland attained her bachelor’s degree in Houston, Texas at Rice University, double majoring in French and the social studies of science, technology, and medicine. She earned her MD from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She completed a pediatrics residency at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2002 and pursued further training in public health and health services research as a Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. She returned to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in 2004 as a faculty member in the Division of General and Community Pediatrics within the UC Department of Pediatrics.

MD: University of Alabama, Birmingham, AL, 1999.

Residency: Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, OH, 2002.

Fellowship: Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, 2004.

Certification: Pediatrics, 2002.

Services and Specialties

General and Community Pediatrics, Primary Care


Health of children in child care; child care illness exclusions; physical activity and obesity prevention in child care settings

Research Areas

General and Community Pediatrics

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Foods Served in Child Care Programs Participating in the Child and Adult Care Food Program and Alignment with Program Meal Patterns. Patlan, K; Glenn, ME; Connor, P; Stidsen, C; Olsho, LE W; Witt, MB; Gola, AA H; Copeland, KA. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2022; 54:610-620.


Dietary Intakes of Children Enrolled in US Early Child-Care Programs During Child-Care and Non-Child-Care Days. Glenn, ME; Patlan, K; Connor, P; Stidsen, C; Ball, S; Peterson, KE; Olsho, LE W; Gola, AA H; Copeland, KA. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2022; 122:1141-1157.e3.


Physical Activity Opportunities in US Early Child Care Programs. Boyle, MH; Olsho, LE W; Mendelson, MR; Stidsen, CM; Logan, CW; Witt, MB; Gola, AA H; Copeland, KA. Pediatrics. 2022; 149:e2020048850.


Shared Reading and Risk of Social-Emotional Problems. Martin, KJ; Beck, AF; Xu, Y; Szumlas, GA; Hutton, JS; Crosh, CC; Copeland, KA. Pediatrics. 2022; 149:e2020034876.


Attainment of '5-2-1-0' obesity recommendations in preschool-aged children. Khalsa, AS; Kharofa, R; Ollberding, NJ; Bishop, L; Copeland, KA. Preventive Medicine Reports. 2017; 8:79-87.


Association of childcare arrangement with overweight and obesity in preschool-aged children: a narrative review of literature. Swyden, K; Sisson, SB; Lora, K; Castle, S; Copeland, KA. International Journal of Obesity. 2017; 41:1-12.


The relationship between physical activity and diet and young children's cognitive development: A systematic review. Tandon, PS; Tovar, A; Jayasuriya, AT; Welker, E; Schober, DJ; Copeland, K; Dev, DA; Murriel, AL; Amso, D; Ward, DS. Preventive Medicine Reports. 2016; 3:379-390.


Child Care Center Characteristics Associated With Preschoolers' Physical Activity. Copeland, KA; Khoury, JC; Kalkwarf, HJ. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2016; 50:470-479.


Societal values and policies may curtail preschool children's physical activity in child care centers. Copeland, KA; Sherman, SN; Kendeigh, CA; Kalkwarf, HJ; Saelens, BE. Pediatrics. 2012; 129:265-274.


Physical activity in child-care centers: do teachers hold the key to the playground?. Copeland, KA; Kendeigh, CA; Saelens, BE; Kalkwarf, HJ; Sherman, SN. Health Education Research: theory and practice. 2012; 27:81-100.

From the Blog

Children Need More Opportunities for Physical Activity in Child-Care Settings
Health Inequities

Children Need More Opportunities for Physical Activity in Child-Care Settings

Kristen A. Copeland, MD5/18/2022

Shared Reading Appears to Improve Social-Emotional Health
Mind Brain Behavior

Shared Reading Appears to Improve Social-Emotional Health

Kristen A. Copeland, MD12/9/2021

Preschool: A Child’s First Step to Health and Success
Blog Child Development and BehaviorChild Development and Behavior

Preschool: A Child’s First Step to Health and Success

By Dr. Kristen Copeland10/17/2016

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