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Joel Gittelsohn

Departmental Affiliations

Human Nutrition

Joel Gittelsohn, PhD, MS, is a medical anthropologist and public health nutritionist who develops programs to improve food access and reduce risk for chronic diseases.

Contact Info

615 N. Wolfe Street, Room W2041

Research Interests

International Health, Nutritional anthropology; culture; behavior; dietary patterns; nutrition intervention; obesity prevention; diabetes prevention; environmental interventions; food store programs; disaster resilience; systems science; simulation modeling

Experiences & Accomplishments
University of Connecticut - Storrs
University of Connecticut - Storrs

Dr. Joel Gittelsohn, Professor, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, is a public health nutritionist and medical anthropologist, who focuses on the primary prevention of chronic disease in disadvantaged communities.  With more than 350 publications, Dr. Gittelsohn has led multiple intervention trials aimed at improving the food environment and providing education needed to support healthy food choices and reduce obesity and diabetes in indigenous communities and Baltimore City. Dr. Gittelsohn has conducted a series of intervention trials with corner stores, carryouts, wholesalers, churches, and recreation centers in Baltimore City.  These studies have shown success in increasing knowledge, healthy food purchasing and consumption, in reducing obesity, and in improving stocking and sales of healthier foods.  Recently, he has begun to use systems science methods in his work, to simulate the impact and unexpected consequences of policies to improve the urban food environment.  Dr. Gittelsohn currently leads grants to improve the food environment by working with independently owned restaurants, retail food stores, and food pantries.

Honors & Awards

2014 President’s Translational Research Recognition Award, Johns Hopkins University

2012 Advising, Mentoring and Teaching Award, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

2005 Advising, Mentoring and Teaching Award, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University

2002 Best Paper of the Year, 2001-2002, Health Education and Behavior, for Cortes, LM, Gittelsohn, J, Alfred J, and Palafox, N (2001) “Formative Research to Inform Intervention Development for Diabetes Prevention in the Republic of the Marshall Islands,” Health Education and Behavior  28(6):696-715.

1993 The Johns Hopkins University Teaching Quality Award

1991 The Johns Hopkins University Golden Apple Teaching Award

Select Publications

Publications listed are representative of my work in improving the food environment in low income urban and rural communities.

  • Go directly to Dr. Gittelsohn's publications at PubMed.

  • CF Ruggiero, L Poirier, A C B Trude, T Yang, T Schwendler, B Gunen, I H Loh, K Perepezko, C S Nam, P Sato, J Gittelsohn; Implementation of B’More Healthy Communities for Kids: process evaluation of a multi-level, multi-component obesity prevention intervention, Health Education Research, cyy031,

  • Gittelsohn J, Trude A, Poirier L, Ross A, Ruggiero C, Schwendler T, Anderson Steeves E. (2017) "The Impact of a Multi-Level Multi-Component Childhood Obesity Prevention Trial on Healthy Food Availability, Sales, and Purchasing in a Low-Income Urban Area," International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2017 Nov 10;14(11). pii: E1371. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14111371. PMID: 29125558

  • Gittelsohn J, Jock B, Redmond L, Fleischhacker S, Eckmann T, Bleich SN, Loh H, Ogburn E, Gadhoke P, Swartz J, Pardilla M, Caballero B. (2017) “OPREVENT2: Design of multi-institutional intervention for obesity control and prevention for American Indian adults,” BMC Public Health, 17 (1): 105. doi: 10.1186/s12889-017-4018-0.

  • Gittelsohn J, Song H-J, Suratkar S, Kumar M, Henry EG, Sharma S, Mattingly M, Anliker J, (2009) “An urban food store intervention positively impacts food-related psychosocial variables and food behaviors,” Health Education and Behavior, Nov 3. [Epub ahead of print].

Preventing obesity among low-income African American children through an environmental intervention in Baltimore City
Growing Leaps and Bounds: An Early Intervention to Prevent Obesity
Toddler overweight prevention (TOPS): Comparison of maternal and toddler interventions
Sustaining and Expanding a Successful Food-Store Based Program to Improve Diet and Reduce Risk for Obesity and Other Chronic Disease in American Indians
Baltimore Healthy Stores Feasibility Trial Phase Two
Expanding and Enhancing the Baltimore Healthy Stores Program to West Baltimore Stores and Communities
Preventing diabetes through a novel faith-based environment intervention for low-income residents of Baltimore City
Formative Research to Understand Key Barriers to Implementing a Farm to Table Program in the Navajo Nation
Southwest Baltimore Supermarket Intervention