Assistant Professor  |  Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Chronic Disease Prevention

Vasanti Malik

Department of Nutritional Sciences


C. David Naylor Building
Mailing Address: Medical Sciences Building, Room 5253 , 1 King's College Circle, Toronto, Ontario Canada M5S 1A8
Research Interests
diet quality, environmental sustainability, global health, obesity prevention, cardiometabolic health, nutrition policy
Appointment Status
Pending the availability of funding


  • Postdoctoral Fellowship, Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • ScD, Nutrition/Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • MSc, Department of Nutritional Sciences, University of Toronto
  • BSc, Biology and Psychology, McMaster University

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At a Glance

  • Dr. Malik's research focuses on the evaluation of dietary and lifestyle risk factors for obesity and cardiometabolic diseases at different life stages and in different populations using epidemiological approaches.
  • She is also interested in assessing the environmental impacts of diets and food systems in the Canadian context.
  • Additional research interests include the implementation of qualitative studies and lifestyle modification trials to improve cardiometabolic health and environmental sustainability in local and global settings.

About Dr. Vasanti Malik

Dr. Vasanti Malik joined the Department of Nutritional Sciences as an Assistant Professor in July 2019. She holds a Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Nutrition and Chronic Disease Prevention and an adjunct position in Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Malik obtained an MSc. in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Toronto and a dual doctorate in Nutrition and Epidemiology from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health where she also completed a post-doctoral fellowship. She has published over 100 papers on diet quality in relation to cardiometabolic diseases including systematic reviews and meta-analyses that have had a key role in informing dietary recommendations and policies. As an emerging leader in the field, she has participated in expert panels including the CIHR/Health Canada Best Brains exchange on added sugars and the American Heart Associations’ round table on added sugars and is currently a consultant for the WHO’s Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group (NUGAG) subgroup on Diet and Health. She serves on the advisory board for the CIHR’s Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes and is on the steering committee for the Feeding Kids Nourishing Minds Initiative with Joannah & Brian Lawson Centre for Child Nutrition. Dr. Malik’s research program is supported by a Connaught New Researcher Award and John R. Evans Leaders Fund Award from the Canada Foundation for Innovation. She is an Associate editor for Nutrition and Health and a review editor for Frontiers in Epidemiology. Dr. Malik teaches a fourth-year undergraduate course on, International and Community Nutrition.

Research Synopsis

The overall goal of Dr. Malik’s research program is to generate evidence that can inform dietary recommendations and policies to reduce the burden of chronic diseases and promote environmental sustainability. She uses a combination of epidemiological studies, clinical trials and evidence synthesis to evaluate dietary, lifestyle and social determinants of obesity and cardiometabolic diseases at different life stages and in different populations. Dr. Malik collaborates with a number of researchers in Canada, the US and globally. Examples of student projects include: studying ethnic differences in cardiometabolic risk among children in TARGetKids! a large primary care practice-based research network; assessing the nutrient adequacy of dietary patterns using national survey data; and evaluating intake of sugary beverages and risk of hypertension in the Harvard prospective cohort studies. Dr Malik is also working on projects related to school meal programs with the FKNM initiative and is a co-investigator on a National Institutes of Health funded sugary beverage substitution trial on body weight in the US. She was the PI of a food substitution trial on biomarkers of diabetes risk in China and has active collaborations on similar projects in India, Nepal, Iran, Malaysia and Puerto Rico. More recently, Dr. Malik has expanded her research interests to explore the environmental impacts of diets and food systems in the Canadian context including the creation of a database of environmental impacts of foods in Canada.

Recent Awards and Distinctions (Selected)

Canada Institute of Health Research: INMD / CNS – Early Career Researcher Partnership Prize (2024)

Connaught Foundation (Ontario), New Researcher Award (2021)

Ontario Research Fund Award (2021)

John R. Evans Leaders Fund Award, Canada Foundation for Innovation (2021)

Canada Research Chair (Tier 2), Nutrition and Chronic Disease Prevention (2020)

Top Reviewer, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2019)

National and International Committee Memberships (Current)

Canadian Institutes of Health research, Advisory Board, Institute of Nutrition, Metabolism and Diabetes.

Post-PhD Fellowship Awards Committee, Canadian Institutes of Health Research

Consultant, WHO Nutrition Guidance Expert Advisory Group (NUGAG) subgroup on Diet and Health

Recent Publications

  1. Jarvis SE, Nguyen M, Malik V. Association between adherence to plant-based dietary patterns and obesity risk: a systematic review of prospective cohort studies. Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2022 Aug 19. doi: 10.1139/apnm-2022-0059. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35985038.
  2. South CA, Keown-Stoneman CDG, Birken CS, Malik VS, Zlotkin SH, Maguire JL; TARGet Kids! collaboration. Underweight in the First 2 Years of Life and Growth in Later Childhood. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Jul 1;5(7):e2224417. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.24417. PMID: 35904782; PMCID: PMC9338407.
  3. Lee JJ, Khan TA, McGlynn N, Malik VS, Hill JO, Leiter LA, Jeppesen PB, Rahelić D, Kahleová H, Salas-Salvadó J, Kendall CWC, Sievenpiper JL. Relation of Change or Substitution of Low- and No-Calorie Sweetened Beverages With Cardiometabolic Outcomes: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Prospective Cohort Studies. Diabetes Care. 2022 Aug 1;45(8):1917-1930. doi: 10.2337/dc21-2130. PMID: 35901272; PMCID: PMC9346984.
  4. Lee D, Chiavaroli L, Ayoub-Charette S, Khan TA, Zurbau A, Au-Yeung F, Cheung A, Liu Q, Qi X, Ahmed A, Choo VL, Blanco Mejia S, Malik VS, El-Sohemy A, de Souza RJ, Wolever TMS, Leiter LA, Kendall CWC, Jenkins DJA, Sievenpiper JL. Important Food Sources of Fructose-Containing Sugars and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Controlled Trials. Nutrients. 2022 Jul 12;14(14):2846. doi: 10.3390/nu14142846. PMID: 35889803; PMCID: PMC9325155.
  5. Kaspy MS, Semnani-Azad Z, Malik VS, Jenkins DJA, Hanley AJ. Metabolomic profile of combined healthy lifestyle behaviours in humans: A systematic review. Proteomics. 2022 Jul 11:e2100388. doi: 10.1002/pmic.202100388. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35816426.
  6. Gyawali P, Tamrakar D, Shrestha A, Shrestha H, Karmacharya S, Bhattarai S, Bhandari N, Malik V, Mattei J, Spiegelman D, Shrestha A. Consumer acceptance and preference for brown rice-A mixed-method qualitative study from Nepal. Food Sci Nutr. 2022 Mar 4;10(6):1864-1874. doi: 10.1002/fsn3.2803. PMID: 35702294; PMCID: PMC9179153.
  7. Mohamed NN, Rohana AJ, Hamid NAA, Hu FB, Malik VS, Mohd Yusoff MF, Aris T, The Global Nutrition And Epidemiologic Transition Initiative Gnet. Intergenerational Transmission of Obesity from Mothers to Their Offspring: Trends and Associated Factors Derived from the Malaysian National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS). Nutrients. 2022 May 24;14(11):2186. doi: 10.3390/nu14112186. PMID: 35683986; PMCID: PMC9182489.
  8. Kavanagh ME, Chiavaroli L, Glenn AJ, Heijmans G, Grant SM, Chow CM, Josse RG, Malik VS, Watson W, Lofters A, Holmes C, Rackal J, Srichaikul K, Sherifali D, Snelgrove-Clarke E, Udell JA, Juni P, Booth GL, Farkouh ME, Leiter LA, Kendall CWC, Jenkins DJA, Sievenpiper JL. A Web-Based Health Application to Translate Nutrition Therapy for Cardiovascular Risk Reduction in Primary Care ( Quality Improvement and Usability Testing Study. JMIR Hum Factors. 2022 Apr 21;9(2):e34704. doi: 10.2196/34704. PMID: 35451981; PMCID: PMC9073604.
  9. McGlynn ND, Khan TA, Wang L, Zhang R, Chiavaroli L, Au-Yeung F, Lee JJ, Noronha JC, Comelli EM, Blanco Mejia S, Ahmed A, Malik VS, Hill JO, Leiter LA, Agarwal A, Jeppesen PB, Rahelic D, Kahleová H, Salas-Salvadó J, Kendall CWC, Sievenpiper JL. Association of Low- and No-Calorie Sweetened Beverages as a Replacement for Sugar-Sweetened Beverages With Body Weight and Cardiometabolic Risk: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Mar 1;5(3):e222092. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.2092. PMID: 35285920.
  10. Malik VS, Hu FB. The role of sugar-sweetened beverages in the global epidemics of obesity and chronic diseases. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2022 Jan 21:1–14. doi: 10.1038/s41574-021-00627-6. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35064240; PMCID: PMC8778490.

In the News

Feeding Kids, Nourishing Minds: Researcher Mavra Ahmed studies school food programs in Canada. U of T News. April 29, 2022.

From detecting earthquakes to preventing disease: 27 U of T research projects receive CFI funding. U of T News. August 12, 2021.

From astrophysics to literature: 29 researchers at U of T awarded Canada Research Chairs. U of T News. December 16, 2020.

Current Lab Members

Sarah Jarvis – PhD student

Annette Blais - MSc student

Michelle Nguyen – MSc student

Selina Mae Quibrantar- MSc student

Teaching Appointments

Course Instructor, NFS490H – International and Community Nutrition, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto