Gordon-Larsen elected to lead The Obesity Society

Sept. 24, 2013
Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen

Dr. Penny Gordon-Larsen

Penny Gordon-Larsen, PhD, professor of nutrition at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, has been elected vice president of The Obesity Society, the leading scientific organization dedicated to the study of obesity. Her four-year position will include service in subsequent years as president-elect, president and immediate past president.

Established in 1982, the Society is committed to encouraging research on the causes and treatment of obesity and to keeping the medical community and public informed of new advances, including through studies published in its leading journal, Obesity. More than 2,000 basic, clinical, and population health and policy researchers are members.

“Dr. Gordon-Larsen will be a stellar leader for this important organization,” said Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, professor and interim chair of the nutrition department. “Her own scientific contributions to the obesity field examine the importance of both our genes and the neighborhoods we live in, all with an eye toward how to prevent overweight in our communities, whether here in the U.S. or around the globe.”

Gordon-Larsen first came to The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1998 for a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in the Gillings School’s nutrition department and at the Carolina Population Center. She joined the nutrition faculty in 2000 and has continued on the faculty and as a faculty fellow at the population center since that time.

Her National Institutes of Health-funded research portfolio focuses on individual-, household- and community-level susceptibility to obesity, and her work ranges from genetic to societal factors that shape obesity and its consequences. Much of her research focuses on issues related to ethnicity, disparities and development of obesity over the life cycle, with attention to pathways linking environment and behavior to cardiometabolic risk.

Her published research has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Archives of Internal Medicine, Obesity, Obesity Reviews, Pediatric Obesity and Pediatrics, among others. She has served as associate editor or as editorial board member of Obesity, Pediatric Obesity, Annals of Behavioral Medicine, Nutrition and Diabetes, Health & Place, and Annals of Human Biology. She has been a fellow in The Obesity Society since 1998, holding leadership roles on several committees and serving as chair of the Pediatric Obesity Section of the organization. She has presented numerous papers at the Society’s annual scientific meetings and received the Society’s Eli Lilly Scientific Achievement Award in 2010.

“We face enormous economic and health burden from obesity, with substantial impact on our health-care delivery system,” Gordon-Larsen said. “In my new role, I look forward to working with researchers, clinicians and policy makers to increase funding for scientific research, promote evidence-based treatment and prevention, and increase public and congressional education and advocacy around obesity.”

Gillings School of Global Public Health contact: David Pesci, director of communications, (919) 962-2600 or dpesci@unc.edu.