We have formed multidisciplinary working groups to study a number of issues pertinent to strengthening the ties between research, policy, and practice as part of the Mailman Obesity Prevention Initiative.

Below are some of the projects we are working on:

Return on Investment & Comparative Effectiveness

Measuring and quantifying the impact of policies on various health outcomes is crucial to implementing sound policy, especially when working with a constrained pool of resources. We seek to evaluate existing obesity-related interventions using a common metric to determine what interventions work and are cost effective.

Gender Differences

Women carry a disproportionate burden of obesity in the United States. We are investigating the biological and/or social pathways that come into play in shaping gender disparities and its implications for obesity prevention.

Built & Urban Environments

Characterizing the built and social environments has enormous potential for studying population health. Using spatial data to examine the impact of built environment, we examine policies related to land use, public transit, and housing and their impact on physical activity, diet, and obesity.

Food Policy

Federal, state, and local feeding programs have a vast reach in affecting dietary behaviors, particularly in low-income communities. We seek to disentangle the complex relationship between food insecurity and high obesity rates in the same communities, and find solutions that can reduce the burden of both.


With respect to obesity, there are many striking disparities characterized by income, education, and race/ethnicity. Our research examines some of the root causes of these disparities, such as the role of stress and sociocultural factors in the development  of obesity.

Metrics & Methods

The combination of qualitative and quantitative research methodologies is often underutilized in public health. Since schools of public health are ideally suited to conduct mixed methods research, we work to draw upon the strengths of qualitative and quantitative research methods to create new ideas and paradigms in tackling the complex problem of obesity.