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Center for Human Nutrition


Joel Gittelsohn

Academic Degrees
Ph.D., University of Connecticut-Storrs, 1989, MS, University of Connecticut-Storrs, 1986
Departmental Affiliation
International Health
Human Nutrition
Phone: 410-955-3927
Fax: 410-955-0196
Research and Professional Experience

Joel Gittelsohn, PhD, MSc, Professor, Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins University, is a medical anthropologist who specializes in the use of qualitative and quantitative information to design, implement and evaluate health and nutrition intervention programs. Dr. Gittelsohn integrates qualitative and quantitative approaches to better understand culture-based beliefs and behaviors regarding dietary patterns, and how these factors influence the success or failure of dietary and lifestyle modification strategies. He applies these methods and interventions for the prevention of obesity and diabetes among different indigenous and ethnic groups, to nutrient deficiencies of Nepalese children and women, and to improve infant feeding in diverse settings (The Gambia; Hartford, CT; Peru). He is currently working on chronic disease interventions among the White Mountain and San Carlos Apache (obesity prevention), the Ojibwa-Cree (diabetes prevention), African American church-going women (cardiovascular disease prevention) and children and adults in the Republic of the Marshall Islands (obesity and undernutrition prevention).

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International Health, Nutritional anthropology; culture; behavior;dietary patterns; nutrition intervention; obesity prevention; diabetes prevention; environmental interventions; food store programs

Honors and Awards

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

Selected Publications

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

Sharma, S, Kolahdooz, F, Butler, L, Budd, N, Rushovich, B, Mukhina, G, Gittelsohn, J, Caballero, B.  (2013) “Assessing dietary intake among infants and toddlers 0-24 months of age in Baltimore, Maryland, USA,” Nutrition Journal  Apr 26;12(1):52. [Epub ahead of print]

Yong R, Lee SH, Freishtat H, Bleich S, Gittelsohn J. (2013) “Availability of Healthy Foods in Prepared Food Sources in Urban Public Markets,” Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, 7:4, 468-481.

Pardilla M., Prasad D., Suratkar S., Gittelsohn J. (2013) "High levels of food insecurity on the Navajo Nation," Public Health Nutrition, 2013 Feb 1:1-8. [Epub ahead of print]

Jeffries J., Lee, S. H., Frick, K. D., Gittelsohn, J. (2013). “Preferences for Healthy Carryout Meals in Low-Income Neighborhoods of Baltimore City,” Health Promotion Practice, 12(2), 293 – 300.

Novotny R, Vijayadeva V, Grove J, Gittelsohn J, Avila J, Yuhua S, Murphy S, (2012) “Dietary Intake Among Native Hawaiian, Filipino, and White Children and Caregivers in Hawai'i,” Hawai‘i Journal of Medicine & Public Health, Dec;71(12):353-8.

Lee SH, Hoffman V.A., Bleich S.N., Gittelsohn J. (2013) “Frequency of visiting and food dollars spent at carry-outs among low-income, urban African-American adults,” Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, 7:4, 459-467.

Summers A.C., Confair A.R., Flamm L., Goheer A., Graham K., Muindi M., Gittelsohn J. (2013) “Designing the Healthy Bodies, Healthy Souls church-based diabetes prevention program through a participatory process,” American Journal of Health Education, 44:2, 53-66.

Ley SH, Harris SB, Connelly PW, Mamakeesick M, Gittelsohn J, Wolever TM, Hegele RA, Zinman B, Hanley AJ. (2012) “Utility of non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol in assessing incident type 2 diabetes risk,” Diabetes Obes Metab. Apr 17. [Epub ahead of print]

Mead E, Gittelsohn J, Roache C, Corriveau A, Sharma S, (2012) "A community-based, environmental chronic disease prevention intervention to improve healthy eating psychosocial factors and behaviors in indigenous populations in the Canadian Arctic," Health Education and Behavior, Dec 13. [Epub ahead of print]

Ayala, G.X., Laska, M.N., Zenk, S.N., Tester, J., Rose, D., Odoms-Young, A., McCoy, T., Gittelsohn, J., Foster, G.D., and Andreyeva, T. “Stocking characteristics and perceived increases in sales associated with the introduction of new WIC-approved food products among small food store managers/owners” Public Health Nutrition, (in press).

Odoms-Young AM, Zenk SN, Karpyn A, Ayala GX, Gittelsohn J. (2012) “Obesity and the food environment among minority groups,” Curr Obes Rep, 1(3): 141-151.

Noormohamed A, Lee SH, Batorsky B, Jackson A, Newman S, Gittelsohn J. (2012) “Factors Influencing Ordering Practices at Baltimore City Carryouts: Qualitative Research to Inform an Obesity Prevention Intervention.” Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 51:481–491.

Song HJ, Gittelsohn J, Anliker J, Sharma S, Suratkar S, Mattingly M, Kim M. (2012) “Understanding a Key Feature of Urban Food Stores to Develop Nutrition Intervention.” Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition, 58: 396-399.

Kodish S, Rah J-H, Kraemer K, De Pee S and Gittelsohn J (2011). “Understanding low usage of micronutrient powder in Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya: Findings from a qualitative study,” Food and Nutrition Bulletin, 32(3): 292-303.

Setala A, Bleich SN, Speakman K, Oski J, Martin T, Moore R, Tohannie M & Gittelsohn J. (2011) "The potential of local farming on the Navajo Nation to improve fruit and vegetable intake barriers and opportunities." Ecology of Food and Nutrition, Sep-Oct;50(5):393-409.

Dennisuk LA, Coutinho AJ, Suratkar S, Surkan P, Christiansen K, Riley M, Anliker JA, Sharma S, Gittelsohn J. (2011) " Food expenditures and food purchasing among low-income urban African-American youth." Am J Prev Med, 40(6): 625-628.

Novotny R, Vijayadeva V, Ramirez V, Lee SK, Davison N, Gittelsohn J. (2011) “Healthy Foods Hawaii: Development and implementation of a food system intervention to prevent childhood obesity in rural Hawaii,” Hawaii Medical Journal, 70(7): 42-47.

Lee SH, Rowan M, Powell L, Newman S, Anderson J, Klassen C, Frick K, Gittelsohn J. (2010) “Characteristics of prepared food sources in low-income neighborhoods of Baltimore City.” Ecology of Food and Nutrition, 49(6): 409-430.