Health Services Research

Health Services Research

The purpose of the Health Services Research Section is to promote obesity-related research in this field and provide career development opportunities for health services research investigators within The Obesity Society.

Health services research focuses on access to care, quality of care, and healthcare costs, and how these factors influence people’s health. Through the Section, we share nascent obesity-related findings, collaborate to inform a strategy that will foster health services research growth within the Society, and engage in opportunities that build the business case for obesity prevention and treatment programs.




  • Promote Health Services Research within the Society through symposia and awards.
  • Facilitate collaboration among Section members and others to foster health services research related to obesity prevention, quality of obesity care, and implementation of obesity treatment programs.
  • Develop new relationships with other Sections in the Society to highlight cross-disciplinary research.

Career Development

  • Encourage active participation in The Obesity Society among early career investigators conducting health services research.
  • Provide networking opportunities for health services researchers during Obesity Week and throughout the year through online communications.



Health Services Research Section Newsletter January 2017

Health Services Research Section Newsletter April 2016

Health Services Research Section Newsletter October 2015

Health Services Research Section Newsletter April 2015

Health Services Research Section Newsletter May 2014


Join the Health Services Research Section

All section members must be a member of The Obesity Society. 

If you are not a member of The Obesity Society, join today.  Be certain to select the Health Services Research Section when completing your profile.

If you are already a member and would like to join the Health Services Research Section please login to your member profile and select the Health Services Research Section. Once you have updated your profile, you will receive all communications pertaining to the section.

Please contact Shameeka Green at, Volunteer Coordinator if you have any questions.



Sean M. Phelan, PhD, MPH (Chair-Elect, 2016-2017)

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN

Sean M. Phelan, PhD, MPH is an Assistant Professor of Health Services Research in the Division of Health Care Policy and Research at Mayo Clinic. His research program is focused on the impact of provider weight bias and attitudes about patients with obesity on communication and decision-making in the clinical encounter, as well as the long and short-term effects of obesity stigma on the health, health behaviors, and care-seeking of individuals with obesity. He is the principal investigator of an NIH funded study to better understand factors that influence the way providers counsel patients about weight, and is also currently studying the experiences in medical school that shape physicians’ beliefs and attitudes about weight loss counseling.

Asheley Cockrell Skinner, PhD (Chair-Elect 2016-2017)

Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC

Asheley Cockrell Skinner, PhD, is a health services researcher focused on addressing a variety of population health issues, particularly those affecting children. She is currently an Associate Professor at Duke University, at the Duke Clinical Research Institute. She received her PhD in 2007 in Health Policy and Administration at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a nationally-known expert in childhood obesity, focusing on the measurement of obesity, the health consequences of obesity, and preventing stigma in obesity interventions and policy. She also has significant experience in the areas of child maltreatment, substance use and abuse among adolescents, and prescription drug misuse. In addition to her many roles in research, she is also a dedicated teacher, mentoring doctoral students, residents, fellows, and junior faculty.

Tapan Mehta, PhD, MS (Secretary/Treasurer 2016-2017)

University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

Dr. Mehta is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Services Administration and an associate scientist with the Nutrition Obesity Research Center. He will direct and lead the statistical analysis and design of the UAB/Lakeshore Research collaborative in the area of disability and rehabilitation sciences. Dr. Mehta’s interests lie in aggregating and integrating silos of genomic, epidemiological and administrative data, to investigate interesting scientific questions, through novel applications of statistical methods and computing platforms. He is especially interested in pursuing scientific inquiry in topics related to obesity, longevity, disability, and health policy and interventions.

David Saxon, MD (Secretary/Treasurer 2016-2017) 

University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL

David Saxon, MD is finishing his 3rd year of post-doctoral training in the Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism and Diabetes at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine. He is board-certified in endocrinology and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Clinical Science as part of the Advanced Health Services Research Fellowship that is part of the Denver VA’s Center of Innovation. Dr. Saxon is involved in several clinical research projects including a PCORI-funded study evaluating the use of a toolbox of evidence-based obesity treatment options within the primary care setting at Denver’s primary “safety net” hospital as well as an evaluation of trends in weight loss medication utilization using EMR data from a large PCORnet database. Finally he is leading a mixed methods study evaluating the weight loss maintenance support needs of patients who completed a commercial meal replacement-based weight loss program. He has a particular interest in the clinical management of obesity in veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and in the utilization of weight loss medications by veterans receiving care within the VA system. He has set-up a pharmacotherapy-based weight loss clinic linked to MOVE!, the VA’s national behavioral weight loss program.

Kristina Henderson Lewis, MD, MPH, SM  (Past Chair, 2016-2017)  

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Winston-Salem, NC

Kristina Lewis, MD, MPH, SM, is a practicing internal medicine physician and researcher with a focus on obesity prevention and treatment. Dr. Lewis has a particular interest in how policy and economics can influence health care and health behaviors. Her current work includes leading a claims-based comparative effectiveness study of bariatric surgical subtypes. She is also developing and evaluating novel nutrition policy interventions to improve diet at the population level, including the application of cap-and-trade policy to food ingredients. Finally, she has served as the principal investigator on several studies testing clinical innovations around the use of registered dietitians in settings outside the clinic, such as grocery stores and restaurants.

Susan Z. Yanovski, MD, FTOS  (Council Liaison, 2016-2017)

National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, MD

I serve as Co-Director of the Office of Obesity Research and Senior Scientific Advisor for Clinical Obesity Research at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. I received my medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. I completed my residency and fellowship in Family Medicine at the Thomas Jefferson University School of Medicine in Philadelphia and a post-doctoral fellowship in eating disorders research at the National Institute of Mental Health. I have served on the editorial boards of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Archives of Family Medicine, and Eating Behaviors. I have published more than 140 peer-reviewed papers, was a member of the expert panel that developed the 2013 AHA/ACC/TOS Guideline for the Management of Overweight and Obesity in Adults, and have served as Principal Investigator (intramural) and Project Scientist (extramural) on single and multi-site clinical studies. My research interests include behavioral, medical, and surgical approaches for obesity treatment in adults and children and the study of binge eating disorder.