Karen Glanz is the George A. Weiss University Professor of Epidemiology and Nursing and founding Director of the Center for Health Behavior Research. With appointments in the Perelman School of Medicine and the School of Nursing, Glanz works at the intersection of health psychology, public health, and epidemiology. 

As obesity became a fast-track epidemic in the U.S., tripling over the past 30 years, Karen Glanz has led the development of effective antidotes.  Early in her career, Glanz focused on how the environment influences diet, overturning assumptions identifying obesity as a psychiatric condition. Her evidence-based methods have since shaped broad initiatives to reduce obesity by documenting the need to improve access to healthy, affordable food and activity-friendly communities.

Glanz has received more than $40 million in funding over the past 15 years to develop and evaluate innovative solutions to the obesity epidemic and to communicate effective obesity and cancer prevention strategies. She was elected to the Institute of Medicine in 2013, a year when her papers received 1,000 citations. Glanz is a CDC Director appointee to the Community Preventive Services Task Force, and has been a senior editor for Social Science & Medicine. She publishes frequently in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Preventive Medicine, American Journal of Public Health, and the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

Her influence extends globally through the Nutrition Environment Measures Survey (NEMS) that Glanz and colleagues created a decade ago. Now available on tablet devices and as a smart phone app, the survey, which will soon link to mapping data, is a convenient, valid tool used to measure food access in varied settings. Glanz is nearing completion of the fifth edition of Health Behavior and Health Education: Theory, Research, and Practice, the definitive, accessible book for students, scientists, and practitioners in public health, nursing, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, and the social sciences. The book covers a wide range of theories and tools to improve health, reflecting her focus on integrative solutions.

Glanz codirects Penn’s new CDC-funded Prevention Research Center (PRC), expanding the impact of her innovative research collaborations at Penn to improve prevention of chronic disease. This $8.1 million initiative is the first PRC in Philadelphia, and serves as a hub for interdisciplinary research, training and communication initiatives to promote health among underserved populations. In keeping with her research interests, Glanz enjoys long bike rides, open-water swims and competing in triathlons.

  • adoption and diffusion
  • behavioral economics
  • behavioral change
  • disease prevention
  • health promotion
  • disparities and health equity
  • medical decision making
  • child/adolescent health
  • chronic diseases
  • oncology
  • public health

Glanz K, Rimer BK, Viwanath V (Eds.). Health Behavior and Health Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc./Wiley, 1990, 1997, 2002, 2008.

Glanz K, Rimer BK, Viswanath V (Eds.).  Health Behavior:  Theory, Research, and Practice, Fifth Edition.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass, Inc./Wiley, 2015.



Glanz K, Handy S, Henderson K, Slater S, Davis E, Powell L. Built environment assessment: Multidisciplinary perspectives. SSM Population Health, 2: 24-31, 2016.

Green SH, Glanz K.  Development of the Perceived Nutrition Environment Measures Survey (NEMS-P).   American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 49: 50-61, 2015.

Glanz K, Sallis JF, Saelens BE.  Advances in Physical Activity and Nutrition Environment Assessment Tools and Applications:  RecommendationsAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine, 48(5): 615-619, 2015.

Keddem S, Barg F, Glanz K, Jackson T, Green SH, George M.  Mapping the Urban Asthma Experience: Using Qualitative GIS to Understand Contextual Factors Affecting Asthma ControlSocial Science and Medicine, 2015; 140: 9-17. Foster G, Karpyn A, Wojtanowski A, Davis E, Weiss S, Brensinger C, Tierney A, Guo W, Brown J, Spross C, Leuchten D, Burns P, Glanz K.  Placement strategies to increase the sales of healthier products in supermarkets in low-income, ethnically diverse neighborhoods: A randomized controlled trialAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 99: 1359-1368, 2014.

Cavanaugh E, Green S, Mallya G, Tierney A, Brensinger C, Glanz K. Changes in Food and Beverage Environments after an Urban Corner Store InterventionPreventive Medicine, 65:7-12, 2014

Glanz K, Volpicelli K, Kanetsky PA, Ming ME, Schuchter LM, Jepson C, Domchek SM, Armstrong K.  Melanoma genetic testing, counseling, and adherence to skin cancer prevention and detection behaviorsCancer, Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, 22: 607-614, 2013.

Glanz K, Bader MD, Iyer S.: Retail grocery store marketing strategies and obesity: An integrative reviewAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine 42(5): 503-512, 2012.


For more publications, visit Glanz's CV


"PIK Professor Discusses Controversial New Dietary Guidelines," Penn Current, February 18, 2016
"Coca-Cola Funding for Health Research," Knowledge @ Wharton Radio, August 2015
"FDA Ban on Trans Fats," Knowledge @ Wharton Radio,   June 2015
"Free Sunscreen in Miami Beach," Knowledge @ Wharton Radio, March 2015
"Healthy Eating: The Mind Games of Supermarkets,” BBC Futures, August 2014
"Staying Fit Through Life," Radio Times, June 12, 2014 [audio] 
"Well Being: Scientist Embraces Challenges," Philadelphia Inquirer, June 2, 2014
"New Dietary Guidelines," Knowledge @ Wharton Radio, January 2014


"Obesity and the Built Environment," Engaging Minds, University of Pennsylvania Alumni Lecture Series, March 18, 2010
 "Understanding and Improving Nutrition Environments in Grocery Stores and Restaurants," University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health Video Library, May 14, 2008