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Center for Human Nutrition


Sara Bleich

Associate Professor
Academic Degrees
BA in Psychology, Columbia University, 2000
PhD in Health Policy, Harvard University, 2007
Departmental Affiliation
Health Policy and Management
Joint Departmental Affiliations
International Health, Health, Behavior and Society
Departmental Address
624 N. Broadway, Room 451
Baltimore, MD 21205
Phone: 410-502-6604
Fax: 410-614-9152
Research and Professional Experience

My research aims to reduce the escalation of obesity and its related diseases by exploring important research questions related to the intersection between public policy and obesity prevention/control. My research focuses on three main areas: 1) drivers of obesity, 2) disparities in physician practice patterns of obesity care, and 3) novel environmental strategies to reduce caloric intake.


adult and childhood obesity (assessment, global trends, causes, health consequences, prevention); policy analysis; access to care for chronic diseases; health disparities; vulnerable populations; international health; obesity-related risk communication; complex data analysis

Honors and Awards

Best research manuscript in the journal Obesity, The Obesity Society, 2012  

Most Outstanding Abstract, International Conference on Obesity 2006 – Sydney, Australia (“Does utilization of hypertensive treatment among Mexican adults depend on supply side infrastructure or insurance status?”)

Harvard GSAS Dissertation Completion Fellowship, 2006 – 2007

Harvard Graduate Prize Fellowship, 2003 - 2006

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality Training Grant (T32), 2002-2003

Selected Publications

Bleich SN, Wolfson JA, Vine S, Wang YCW (2014). Heavy adults who drink diet beverages consume more calories from food than heavy adults who drink sugary beverages. American Journal of Public Health. In press. 

Jarlenski MP, Barry CL, Bennett WL, Bleich SN (2014). Insurance coverage and prenatal care among low-income pregnant women: An assessment of states' adoption of the 'Unborn Child' option in Medicaid and CHIP. Medical Care. 52(1):10-9. PMID: 24316870. 

Bleich SN, Vine S, Wolfson JA (2013). American adults eligible for the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program consume more sugary beverages than ineligible adults. Preventive Medicine. 57(6):894-9. PMID: 24128951; PMCID: PMC3842507. 

Huftless S, Gudzune KA, Maruthur N, Wilson RF, Bleich SN, Lau BD, Fawole OA, Anderson CA, Segal J (2013). Strategies to Prevent Weight Gain in Adults: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 45(6): e41-51. PMID: 24237928. 

Bleich SN, Gudzune KA, Bennett WL, Jarlenski MP, Cooper LA (2013). How does physician BMI impact patient trust and perceived stigma? Preventive Medicine. 57(2):120-4. PMID: 23743418; PMCID: PMC3745018. 

Hoffman V, Bleich SN, Goedkoop S, Lee SH, Gittelsohn J (2013).  Relationship between BMI and food purchases in low-income, urban adult carry-out customers. Journal of Hunger and Environmental Nutrition. 8(4): 533-545. 

Bleich SN, Segal J, Yang Y, Wilson R, Wang Y (2013). Systematic review of community-based childhood obesity prevention studies. Pediatrics. 132 (1): e201 -e210. PMID: 23753099; PMCID: PMC3691541.

Bleich SN, Jarlenski MP, Bell CN, LaVeist TA (2013). Addressing health inequalities in the United States: Key data trends and policy action. Frontiers in Public Health Services and Systems Research. 2 (4).

Bleich SN, Rutkow L (2013). Improving obesity prevention at the local level – emerging opportunities. New England Journal of Medicine. 368:1761-1763. PMID: 23656641. 

Showell NN, Fawole O, Segal J,  Wilson RF, Cheskin L, Bleich SN, Weston C, Wu Y, Lau B, Wang Y (2013). A Systematic Review of Home-based Childhood Obesity Prevention Studies. Pediatrics. 132(1):e193-200. PMID: 23753095; PMCID: PMC3691540.

Jarlenski MP, Gudzune KA, Bennett WL, Cooper LA, Bleich SN. (2013). Insurance coverage for weight loss: overweight adults' views. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 44(5): 453-458. PMID: 23597807; PMCID: PMC3671931.

Bleich SN, Gudzune KA, Bennett WL, Cooper LA (2013). Do physician beliefs about causes of obesity translate into actionable issues on which physicians counsel their patients? Preventive Medicine. 56: 326–328. PMID: 23399006; PMCID: PMC3745015.

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

Yong R, Lee SH, Freishtat H, Bleich SN, Gittelsohn J (2012). Availability of Healthy Foods in Prepared Food Sources in Urban Public Markets. Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition. 7:468-481. 

Bleich SN, Bennett WL, Gudzune KA, Cooper LA (2012). National survey of U.S. primary care physicians’ perspectives about causes of obesity and solutions to improve care. BMJ Open. 2(6) pii: e001871. PMID: 23257776; PMCID: PMC3533040. 

Gudzune KA, Bleich SN, Richards TM, Weiner JP, Hodges K, Clark JM. Doctor shopping by overweight and obese patients is associated with increased healthcare utilization. Obesity. 21(7): 1328–1334. PMCID: PMC3742565. 

Jones DE, Carson KA, Bleich SN Cooper LA. Patient Trust in Physicians and Adoption of Lifestyle Behaviors to Control High Blood Pressure. Patient Education and Counseling. 89(1):57-62. PMID: 22770676. 

Chang H-Y, Weiner JP, Bleich SN, Richards T, Segal JB (2012). Predicting Costs with the Diabetes Complications Severity Index in Claims Data. American Journal of Managed Care. 18(4):213-9. PMID: 22554010. 

Bleich SN, Bennett WL, Gudzune KA, Cooper LA (2012). Impact of physician body mass index on obesity care and beliefs. Obesity. 20(5):999-1005. PMID: 22262162; PMCID: PMC3645927. 

Ma S, Dubay L, Frick KD, Bleich SN (2012). Racial Disparities in Medical Expenditures by Body Weight Categories. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 27(7):780-6. PMID:22278301.

Bleich SN, Herring BJ, Flagg DD, Gary-Webb TL (2012). Reduction in purchases of sugar-sweetened beverages among low income, black adolescents after exposure to caloric information. American Journal of Public Health. 102(2): 329-335. PMID: 22390447. 

Bleich SN, Jarlenski MP, Bell CN, LaVeist TA (2012). Health inequalities: Trends, Progress and Policy. Annual Review of Public Health. 33: 7-40. PMID: 22224876; PMCID: PMC3745020. 

Bleich SN, Simon AE, Cooper LA (2012). Impact of patient-provider race concordance on rates of weight-related counseling in visits by black and white obese individuals. Obesity. 20(3):562-70. PMID: 21119669; PMCID: PMC3786341.

Bleich SN, Chang H-Y, Lau B, Steele K, Clark JM, Richards T, Weiner JP, Wu AW, Segal JB (2011). Impact of Bariatric Surgery on Healthcare Utilization and Costs among Patients with Diabetes. Medical Care. 50(1):58-65. PMID: 22167064; PMCID: PMC3241012.

Setala A, Bleich SN, Speakman K, Martin, T, Moore R, Tohannie M, Gitteloshn 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. 50(5):393-409. PMID: 21895419. 

Steele KE, Prokopwicz GP, Chang H-Y, Richards T, Clark J, Weiner JP, Bleich SN, Wu A, Segal JB (2011). Risk of Complications after Bariatric Surgery Among Individuals With and Without Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases.  8(3):305-30. PMID: 21880549.

Setala A, Gittelsohn J, Speakman K, Oski J, Martin T, Moore R, Tohannie M, Bleich SN (2011). Linking farmers to community stores to increase consumption of local produce: a case study of the Navajo Nation. Public Health Nutrition. 14(9):1658-62. PMID: 21450136. 

Pickett-Blakely O, Bleich SN, Cooper LA (2011). Patient-physician gender concordance and weight-related counseling of obese patients. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 40(6): 616-9. PMID: 21233803; PMCID: PMC3675445. 

Bleich SN, Wang YC (2011). Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among adults with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes Care. 34(3):551-5. 21273500; PMID: 21273500; PMCID: PMC3041179.

Bleich SN, Pickett-Blakely O, Cooper LA. (2011). Physician Practice Patterns of Obesity Diagnosis and Weight-Related Counseling. Patient Education and Counseling. 82(1):123-9. PMID: 20303691; PMCID: PMC2902765. 

Bleich SN, Koehlmoos TK, Rashid M, Peters D, Anderson G (2011). Noncommunicable chronic disease in Bangladesh: Overview of existing programs and priorities going forward. Health Policy. 100(2-3):282-9. PMID: 20889225; PMCID: PMC3043199. 

Bleich SN, Ku R, Wang YC (2010). Relative contribution of energy intake and energy expenditure to childhood obesity: A review of the literature and directions for future research. International Journal of Obesity. 35(1):1-15. PMID: 21119669. 

Bleich SN, Clark JM, Goodwin SM, Huizinga MM, Weiner JP (2010). Variation in provider identification of obesity by individual-level and neighborhood-level characteristics among an insured population. Journal of Obesity. [Epub] PMID: 20798754; PMCID: PMC2925087.

Bleich SN, Pollack KM (2010). The publics' understanding of calories and their perceptions if calorie labeling: Implications for future legislation. BMC Public Health. 10:121. PMID: 20214811; PMCID: PMC2847976.

Bleich SN, Huizinga MM, Beach MC, Cooper LA (2010) Patient Use of Weight Management Activities: A Comparison of Patient and Physician Assessments. Patient Education and Counseling. 79(3):344-50. PMID: 20193998; PMCID: PMC2879463. 

Bleich SN, Thorpe RJ, Sharif-Harris H, Fesahazion R, LaVeist TA (2009) Social context explains race disparities in obesity among women. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 64(5):465-9. PMID: 20445215; PMCID: PMC3099623. 

Huizinga MM, Bleich SN, Beach MC, Clark JM, Cooper LA (2009) Disparity in Physician Perception of Patients’ Adherence to Medications by Obesity Status. Obesity. 18(10):1932-7. PMID: 20186132; PMCID: PMC3149807. 

Huizinga MM, Beach MC, Bleich SN, Clark JM, Cooper LA (2009) Physician Respect for Patients with Obesity. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 24(11):1236-9. PMID:19763700; PMCID: PMC2771236.

Bleich SN and Sturm R (2009). Developing policy solutions for a more active nation: Integrating economic and public health perspectives. Preventive Medicine. 49(4):306-8. PMID: 19616575. 

Bleich SN, Özaltin E, Murray CJL (2009). What is the relationship between satisfaction with the health care system and patient experience? Bulletin of the World Health Organization. 87:271-278. PMCID: PMC2672587.

Bleich SN, Wang YC, Wang Y, Gortmaker SL (2009). Increasing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages among U.S. adults: 1988-1994 to 1999-2004. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 89(1):372-81. PMID: 19056548.

Wang YC, Bleich SN, Gortmaker SL (2008). Increasing Caloric Contribution from Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and 100% Fruit Juices among US Children and Adolescents, 1988-2004. Pediatrics. 121(6):e1604-14. PMID: 18519465.

Bleich SN, Cutler D, Murray CJL, and Adams A (2008). Why is the Developed World Obese? Annual Review of Public Health. 29:273-95. PMID: 18173389

Bleich SN, Cutler D, Adams A, Lozano R, Murray CJL (2008). Impact of Insurance and Supply of Health Professionals on Hypertension Diagnosis and Treatment: An Analysis of Mexico. BMJ. 335(7625):875. PMID: 17954519; PMCID: PMC2043407

Bleich SN, Blendon R, and Adams A (2007). Trust in Scientific Experts on Obesity: Implications for Awareness & Behavior Change. Obesity. 15(8):2145-56. PMID: 17712134

Bleich SN (2007). Is it all in a Word? The Effect of Question Wording on U.S. Support of HIV/AIDS Spending. Harvard International Journal of Press and Politics. 12(2):120-132.

 Bleich SN and Taylor-Clark K (2005). Black Men on the “Down Low” and the HIV Epidemic: The Need for Research and Intervention Strategies. Harvard Journal of African-American Public Policy. (11):13-20.