Jannie Nielsen

Jannie Nielsen

Associate Professor

My primary research interest is centered on the complexity of chronic conditions, related risk factors, and social relations. I focus on how chronic conditions and related risk factors are shaped, shared, spread and interact in social network such as families, and how social networks influence disease management and access to treatment and care. Further, I have a strong interest in disparities in chronic conditions.

The primary goal of my research is to provide novel insights on the role of social networks and disparities in risk of chronic conditions and access to care. Risk factors for major chronic diseases are by now well-known; the challenge for public health is to prevent these.

I have investigated chronic conditions (particularly obesity and type 2 diabetes) qualitatively and quantitatively; in families, couples, and parents and their children; collected primary data in Uganda and Vietnam, and worked with secondary data from Denmark, United Kingdom, India, and the United States.

I have a background in Human Physiology and a PhD in Global Health from University of Copenhagen. I have minors in Geography from University of Copenhagen and Public Health from London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In 2015, I was awarded with a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship from the Danish Council for Independent Research with allowed me to spend 1 year at Emory University Rollins School of Publisc Health, USA. In 2017, I was awarded with an international mobility fellowship from Independent Research Fund Denmark to spent additional two years at Emory University, USA as a visiting Assisting Professor.

I am Co-Investigator on NIH and DANIDA grants. Internationally, I have accessed grant applications from Medical Research Council UK.

Current research

Disparities in the burden and progression of multi-morbidity across adulthood

Approximately one fourth of the adults in the U.S. suffer from multi-morbidity, experiencing two or more chronic cardio-metabolic diseases. For interventions to interrupt the progression to having multiple chronic conditions and disparities in multi-morbidity, it is necessary to understand how these unfold across adulthood. In this study, we will provide national estimates of the burden of multi-morbidity across adulthood, of the progression from one chronic disease to multi-morbidity, and of how trajectories of multi-morbidity contribute to health disparities.

Funding: NIH, National Institute of Aging

Period: 2022-2025


Dynamics and Health Consequences of Obesity between Infancy and Young Adulthood in the United States

Given the public health importance of obesity, understanding the implications of its patterning, including age of onset, duration of exposure and patterns of reversal is critical to identifying vulnerable age periods, groups at highest risks, and lifetime health consequences. Combining multiple nationally representative panel datasets, we propose to estimate the age-specific incidence of obesity during childhood and adulthood among contemporary cohorts of Americans, estimate their duration and level of exposure to unhealthy BMI, and estimate the links between these dynamics and the emergence of subsequent health complications. These analyses will quantify the long-term health implications of exposure to high BMI early in life and will provide estimates for the effectiveness and broader benefits of policies and programs aimed at reducing and preventing obesity.

Funding: NIH, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases

Period: 2018-2023


Living Together with Chronic Disease: Informal Support for Diabetes Management in Vietnam 

The project aims to advance research on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) by providing new insights on domestic and informal forms of care. The project is conducted in Vietnam’s Thai Binh province as an academic partnership between Thai Binh University of Medicine and Pharmacy and the Universities of Copenhagen and Southern Denmark. It is carried out in close collaboration with the Danish-Vietnamese Strategic Sector Cooperation (SSC) project: Strengthening the Frontline Grassroots Health Worker: Prevention and Management of NCDs at the Primary Health Care Level, with Novo Nordisk as private sector partner. We have recently received a grant for a Phase II of the project which will focus on gestational diabetes among pregnant women in Thai Binh.

Funding: Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Period: 2018-2023




Course leaderships

2nd year project (BA in Public Health Sciences).
Prevention and Social Inequality in Health (Master in Public Health)

Other Teaching

Medical sociology”, MSc in Medicine.

Previous course leaderships

Survey methods (MPH Emory University);

Selected publications

  1. Body mass index trajectories from childhood to adulthood and age at onset of overweight and obesity: the influence of parents’ weight status.

    Nielsen, Jannie, Hulman, A., Narayan, K. M. V. & Cunningham, S. A., 2022, (Accepted/In press) In: American Journal of Epidemiology.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  2. Spouse’s diabetes status and incidence of depression and anxiety: An 18 year prospective study

    Nielsen, Jannie, Cunningham, S. A., Ali, M. K. & Patel, S. A., Jun 2021, In: Diabetes Care. 44, 6, p. 1264-1272

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  3. Published

    Spousal cardiometabolic risk factors and incidence of type 2 diabetes: a prospective analysis from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing

    Nielsen, Jannie, Hulman, A. & Witte, D. R., 1 Jul 2018, In: Diabetologia. 61, 7, p. 1572-1580 9 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  4. Published

    A comparison of cardiometabolic risk factors in households in rural Uganda with and without a resident with type 2 diabetes, 2012-2013

    Nielsen, Jannie, Bahendeka, S. K., Gregg, E. W., Whyte, Susan Reynolds, Bygbjerg, Ib Christian & Meyrowitsch, Dan Wolf, 2 Apr 2015, In: Preventing Chronic Diseases. 12, p. 1-10 10 p., 140486.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  5. Published

    Accessing diabetes care in rural Uganda: Economic and social resources

    Nielsen, Jannie, Bahendeka, S. K., Bygbjerg, Ib Christian, Meyrowitsch, Dan Wolf & Whyte, Susan Reynolds, 2017, In: Global Public Health. 12, 7, p. 892-908 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

ID: 13684069