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Global Obesity Prevention Center

Betsy Anderson Steeves

Her Footprint at the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins




betsyBetsy Anderson Steeves is a fourth-year doctoral student in the Human Nutrition program and a graduate student fellow of the Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC), preparing to graduate in summer 2015.  During her PhD, Betsy served for over two years as the Project Coordinator for the B’More Healthy Communities for Kids (BHCK) program, under the guidance and mentorship of Dr. Joel Gittelsohn.  Betsy’s doctoral thesis work is a sub-study, nested within BHCK, looking at influences of the social environment on urban, minority adolescents eating and weight-related behaviors.


Work with the Youth Leader Program


YL TeamA large component of Betsy’s thesis was to develop and implement the youth leader component of the BHCK intervention, which trained 16 Baltimore-based college students to deliver a series of nutrition intervention sessions to younger youth in recreation centers and corner stores in East and West Baltimore.  While most work on obesity focuses solely on the physical environment, the BHCK program focuses on several different components.  BHCK contains intervention strategies to create change in the physical environment (wholesaler, corner store, and carryout strategies), and the social environment (youth leader, social media, and text messaging strategies), along with tactics to promote health policy through modeling. BHCK is uniquely positioned to create significant impact on the nutritional health of Baltimore youth in order to identify approaches for obesity prevention.


Impact of GOPC at Johns Hopkins


GOPC JH logoBetsy acknowledges working with the core faculty, staff and students in the GOPC as one of the highlights of her time at Johns Hopkins. Betsy recognizes the ability to meet and connect with scientists who are leading the charge to address global obesity as an amazing, memorable experience.  In addition, everyone involved in the center was incredibly supportive of her development as a PhD student and an emerging researcher. Betsy feels that her work with the GOPC has expanded her research capabilities and preparation to pursue high quality obesity-related research in the future.


Future Plans


With graduation on the horizon, Betsy’s future plans are to remain in academia and continue to work similar issues to those addressed by her work in Baltimore with the BHCK program.  She has accepted an Assistant Professor position at the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee starting in August 2015.  Betsy’s position will allow her to pursue community-based obesity research, with a focus on food purchasing behaviors of urban adolescents, along with teaching and mentoring students in the Nutritional Sciences program.  While Milwaukee is a long way away from Baltimore, Johns Hopkins remains close at hand.  Betsy and fellow JHSPH alumni and UWM faculty member, Dr. Linnea Laestadius (PhD, Health Policy and Management) plan on submitting a grant related to community food insecurity this spring.