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June 11, 2013

Caballero to Lead Johns Hopkins Global Center on Childhood Obesity

Benjamin Caballero, MD, PhD, has been named the new director of the Johns Hopkins Global Center on Childhood Obesity, which brings together leading scientists from across the Johns Hopkins University and around the world in the fight against childhood obesity and related non-communicable disease epidemics through systems science research.

For the past 15 years, Caballero has focused his research on the problem of childhood obesity in the U.S. and in developing countries. He is active in key scientific committees advising the U.S. government on issues of diet and health, including the Dietary Reference Intakes Committee, Expert Panel on Macronutrient Requirements, and the Food and Nutrition Board, all of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences. Caballero was a member of both the Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee and the Scientific Advisory Board of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 1990, he founded the Johns Hopkins Center for Human Nutrition which helps to harness the nutrition expertise from all quarters of the University. caballero

“Since his arrival, Dr. Caballero has been an inspirational leader who has helped shape the global agenda on nutrition research,” says David Peters, chair and professor of the Department of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “We are looking forward to realizing the potential of the Center in fighting the global childhood obesity and related non-communicable disease epidemics through systems-oriented innovative research.”

Caballero is professor of International Health and Maternal and Child Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and professor of Pediatrics at the School of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University. His book, The Nutrition Transition: Diet and Disease in the Developing World, explored the impact of demographic and economic development on diet- and lifestyle-related diseases in developing countries. His most recent book, Obesity in China, addressed his work on this emerging problem in urban and rural China. “Over the past decades, much progress has been made in our understanding of many of the multiple factors associated with obesity, from cellular mechanisms to eating behaviors and the sociocultural determinants. Attempts to single out one of these factors as the main culprit of the obesity epidemic occur almost daily. The reality is that obesity is a complex, multifactorial public health problem, and there is a great need to study it as such. Our university is a world leader both in public health and in systems science, thus it is in a unique position to tackle that challenge,” commented Caballero.

Based at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and in collaboration with scientists at the NIH, the Center involves more than 100 investigators from 20 domestic and 11 international institutions, including faculty from six Johns Hopkins schools, namely Whiting School of Engineering, School of Medicine, School of Nursing, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Business. The Center is dedicated to the better understanding of the causes and prevention of childhood obesity and other lifestyle-related, non-communicable chronic diseases.

As part of its training and outreach mission, the Center hosted the first Annual JHGCCO Scientific Symposium in April. The Symposium attracted participants from 38 institutions across the globe. Later this month the Center will sponsor a Bloomberg School Summer Institute course on complex systems and obesiy.

Contact for the Department of International Health: Brandon Howard at 410-502-9059 or

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health media contact: Tim Parsons at 410-955-7619 or