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Joel Gittelsohn, PhD

  • Professor

Departmental Affiliations

Center & Institute Affiliations

Contact Information

615 N. Wolfe Street
Room W2041
Baltimore, Maryland 21205


Healthy Food Systems Projects

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PhD, University of Connecticut - Storrs, 1989
MS, University of Connecticut - Storrs, 1986


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 and 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

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

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].