Dr. Laar has academic training in Nutrition, Public Health, and Bioethics. In his independent scholarship, he draws on theoretical, conceptual, and methodological perspectives from the social sciences, bioethics, and public health to understand how physical environment, social environment, as well as structural forces affect health. Currently, his research focuses on two distinct, yet related areas of public health – bioethics (ethics & public health; health & human rights, food ethics, & nutrition rights); public health nutrition (food literacy, nutrition-related non-communicable diseases, and the nexus between food environment and health).
He spent most part of the past decade exploring the socio-cultural, socio-ethical, and medico-ethical dimensions of HIV. He has led/co-led such projects as the HIV/AIDS Interactive Training, Education and Development Center Project (which developed interventions to increase uptake of HIV testing, and reproductive health literacy of students and staff of the University of Ghana); the Non-prescription Medication Use Project (which assessed multiple non-prescription medications use among Ghanaian HIV-positive persons on antiretroviral therapy). He was one of two experts/consultants who supported the development of Ghana’s ~78 million US Dollars Global Fund Grant for HIV/TB for the period 2018-2020. In 2017, he supported UNAIDS to develop Ghana’s Fast-Track HIV Prevention Roadmap.
He was recently involved in the implementation of the UK-AID/Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded “Dietary Transitions in Ghanaian Cities”, as well as the MRC-funded “Dietary Transitions in African Cities Project” (both projects aimed to identify how social, and physical environments drive consumption of energy dense nutrient-poor foods and beverages). He is the PI of the IDRC-funded MEALS4NCDs Project which is “measuring the healthiness of Ghanaian children’s food environments to prevent obesity and non-communicable diseases”. Dr. Laar is a Co-PI and Ghana Lead on a 5-year NIH-funded project which will establish a masters programme in Bioethics at the University of Ghana (the first of such in Ghana).
Dr. Laar’s international engagements in public health nutrition include his participation in the 66th Session of the UN-General Assembly Meeting in New York, 2011; in the UN Economic Commission for Africa Expert Group Meeting in Addis, Ethiopia, 2017; in the FAO’s Future of Food Symposium, Rome, 2019, and several other international meetings. He was recently recognized in the Lancet, for his efforts at combating nutrition-related NCDs in Ghana. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landia/article/PIIS2213-8587(19)30216-5/fulltext. His scholarly works include 68 peer-reviewed publications (one book, five book chapters, 62 Journal articles).