Leslie A. Lytle, PhD

Professor and Chair Department of Health Behavior
Professor Department of Nutrition

T:(919) 843-8171


303 Rosenau Hall

CB #7440

Chapel Hill, NC 27599


Leslie Lytle is professor and chair of the Department of Health Behavior.

Her research focuses on the health promotion of youth and young adults, particularly preventing obesity and promoting healthful diet and physical activity through school, family and environmental approaches. She has been developing, implementing and evaluating behavior-change interventions for more than 25 years.

Dr. Lytle has been a principal investigator on several large National Institutes of Health (NIH) studies, including CATCH (NHLBI), TEENS (NCI), TAAG (NHLBI), IDEA (NCI), ECHO (NHLBI) and CHOICES (NHLBI).

She chairs the Steering Committee for the EARLY trials, a consortium of seven universities that are testing technology-based interventions to reduce weight gain in young adults at risk for obesity; her CHOICES study is one of the trials. In addition to obesity-related health behaviors in youth/young adults, she has also studied sleep-, tobacco- and alcohol-related behaviors.

Honors and Awards

Nominated to the List of Most Influential Obesity Researchers
2009, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Representative Courses

Development and Evaluation of Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Interventions (HBEH 811) | Syllabus

Teaching Interests

Dr. Lytle has taught courses in theories of health behavior change, community nutrition interventions, and behavioral and social aspects of health.

Research Activities

Adolescent and young adult health
Health behavior change
Health promotion
Obesity prevention and reduction
Physical activity promotion
Cardiovascular disease reduction
Design and implementation of effective health interventions
Effects of environmental factors on health behaviors
Role of technology in health promotion

Service Activities

Dr. Lytle is frequently invited to serve as an expert reviewer or panelist for national agencies and academic institutions, including the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, NIH, CDC, school health and various behavioral health or nutrition departments.

Current service positions include:
Dannon Institute Board, since 2009
Danone International Institute, Elected member, since 2013
Member, Expert Panel, Guideline for School Health Programs to Promote Lifelong Physical Activity and Healthy Eating, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2006
Member Expert Panel: Common Community Measures for Obesity Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, since 2007
Elected member of the Executive Board for the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity: Position, Member at Large, since 2009

Staff/Administrative Duties

As department chair, Dr. Lytle is responsible for the overall operations of the health behavior department. She engages with a variety of stakeholders from within and without the University to ensure the growth of the department and adherence to its training, practice and research missions.

Key Publications

Weight and weight-related behaviors among 2-year college students. Nanney, M. S., Lytle, L. A., Farbakhsh, K., Moe, S. G., Linde, J. A., Gardner, J. K. and Laska, M. N. (2015). Journal of American College Health, 63(4), 221-229.

Considering the potential effect of federal policy on childhood obesity. Lytle, L.A. (2015). JAMA Pediatrics, 169(1), 15-16.

The EARLY trials: a consortium of studies targeting weight control in young adults. S Belle, I Fernandez, J Jakicic, K Johnson, C Loria, L Lytle, C Olson, K Patrick, L Svetkey, D Tate, R Wing (2014). Translational Behavioral Medicine, 4(3), 304-313.

Designing a Weight Gain Prevention Trial for Young Adults: The CHOICES Study. M Laska, J Linde, L Lytle, S Moe, M Nanney (2014). American journal of health education / American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance, 45(2), 67-75.

Translating a health behavior change intervention for delivery to 2-year college students: the importance of formative research. J Gardner, M Laska, J Linde, P Lozano, L Lytle, C Petrich, S Sevcik (2014). Translational Behavioral Medicine, 4(2), 160-169.


PhD, Health Behavior and Health Education, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, 1988

MS, Education, Purdue University, 1979

BS, Biological Health / Medical Dietetics, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, 1976