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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
Experiences & Accomplishments
University of Connecticut - Storrs
University of Connecticut - Storrs
Dr. Joel Gittelsohn is a Professor in the Center for Human Nutrition and Global Obesity Prevention Center, International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Gittelsohn is a public health nutritionist and medical anthropologist, who focuses on developing, implementing and evaluating community-based programs for the primary prevention of chronic disease in disadvantaged ethnic minority populations. With more than 280 publications, Dr. Gittelsohn has led multiple food source-centered intervention trials aimed at improving the food environment and providing education needed to support healthy food choices and reduce obesity and diabetes in Native communities, Baltimore City, and Pacific Islander communities. Dr. Gittelsohn developed a multi-institutional program for diabetes prevention in 7 First Nations in schools and food stores, which has been extended to 11 American Indian communities and includes worksites, social media and policy components. He 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. Dr. Gittelsohn collaborates with the city of Baltimore to support their efforts to improve the food environment and promote disaster resilience.
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