RWJF Health & Society Scholar:
General Internal Medicine, Epidemiology
Area(s) of Expertise:
Overweight and Obesity, Nutrition, Stress, Neighborhoods
As a general internal medicine physician with specialized training in population health and epidemiology through the RWJ Health and Society Scholars program, Dr. Jason Block bring unique perspectives on risk factors for overweight and obesity and approaches to interventions to promote a healthy diet and weight loss. His primary research interests follow two tracks – examining the geographic influences contributing to the obesity epidemic and intervening in multiple settings to promote weight loss and overall wellness, especially at the environmental level. He works with interdisciplinary teams of researchers in economics, sociology, geography, epidemiology, medicine, and nutrition and has completed studies on the geographic distribution of food establishments and whether proximity to food establishments is associated with body weight. Most recently, he published a novel study of proximity to food establishments and body mass index using a unique 30-year longitudinal dataset on food establishments linked to body weight and residential addresses from the Framingham Heart Study Offspring Cohort. Contrary to much prior research, this study found no substantial association between proximity to food establishments and BMI. He and his colleagues are now planning additional work that will examine the role of workplace proximity to food establishments on body weight.
On the intervention front, he is exploring point-of-purchases interventions or policies to improve dietary choices in workplaces and food establishments. He completed a food service intervention in a hospital cafeteria to compare the effect of a price increase on regular soda to a point-of-purchase educational intervention and found that only the price intervention impacted regular soda sales. He is now conducting several more studies on point-of-purchase interventions: a comparison of a price increase on soda to an alteration in the default presentation of beverages in a larger employer, an evaluation of a price reduction in water on sales of beverages in a large supermarket chain, and an evaluation of the coming federal regulations that will require calories to be posted on menus in chain restaurants. His work has been featured by NPR, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, among other media outlets.
Click here for a list of Jason Block's available publications in PubMed.