407 Savage Hall
Ithaca, New York
Division of Nutritional Sciences


I am a sociologist who incorporates substantive, theoretical, and methodological work from several social science disciplines and fields into my teaching and research about social aspects of food, eating, and nutrition. Substantively, my research focuses on the social causes and consequences of obesity, especially marriage and body weight;  food choice processes;  eating relationships; and food systems. Theoretically, I teach and use a variety of perspectives, and my theoretical work focuses on conceptualizing social relationship trajectories, constructing and negotiating food choice, and how physical factors are related with social factors. Methodologically, I use quantitative and qualitative techniques, and my methodological work focuses upon assessing qualitative sample extensiveness, developing category content elicitation methods, and constructing ways to assess eating partners.

Marriage and Body Weight, Food Choice Processes, Food Systems

Sobal, J., Khan, L.K., Bisogni, C.A. A conceptual model of the food and nutrition system. Social Science and Medicine 1998;47(7):853-63.

Bove, C.F., Sobal, J., Rauschenbach, B.S. Food choices among newly married couples: Convergence, conflict, individualism, and projects. Appetite 2003:40:25-41.

Bove, C.F., Sobal, J.  Weight relationships in early marriage: Weight salience, weight comparisons, and weight talk. Appetite 2011;57:729-742.

Sobal, J., Rauschenbach, B., Frongillo, E.A. Marital status changes and body weight changes: A U.S. longitudinal analysis. Social Science and Medicine 2003:56(7):1543-1555.

Sobal, J., Hanson, K., Frongillo, E.A. Gender, ethnicity, marital status, and body weight in the U.S. Obesity 2009;17:2223-2231.

Sobal, J., Hanson, K. Marital status, marital history, body weight, and obesity. Marriage and Family Review 2011;47(7):474-504.

Sobal, J., Nelson, M.K. Commensal eating patterns: A community study. Appetite 2003:41:181-190.

Sobal, J., Bisogni, C.A., Devine, C.M., and Jastran, M. A conceptual model of the food choice process over the life course. In: Shepherd, R. and Raats, M. (eds). The psychology of food choice. Cambridge MA: CABI Publishing. 2006. pp 1-18.

Sobal, J., Khan, L.K., Bisogni, C.A.  A conceptual model of the food and nutrition system.  Social Science and Medicine 1998;47(7):853-63. 

Sobal, J. Bisogni, C.A. Constructing food choice decisions. Annals of Behavioral Medicine 2009;38(Supplement 1):S37-S46.

Griffin, J., Sobal, J., Lyson, T.A. An analysis of a community food waste stream. Agriculture and Human Values 2009;26(1):67-81.

Sobal, J.  Men, meat, and marriage:  Models of masculinity.  Food and Foodways 2005;13(1-2):135-158.

Maurer, D. and Sobal, J. (eds). Eating Agendas: Food and Nutrition as Social Problems. Piscataway NJ:  Aldine Transaction. 1995.

Sobal, J. and Maurer, D. (eds). Weighty Issues: Fatness and Thinness as Social Problems. Piscataway, NJ: Aldine Transaction. 1999.

Sobal, J. and Maurer, D. (eds). Interpreting Weight: Social Management of Fatness and Thinness. Piscataway, NJ: Aldine Transaction. 1999.

American Sociological Association (ASA)

Eastern Sociological Society (ESS)

Association for the Study of Food and Society (ASFS)

Cornell Graduate Field Memberships: Nutrition; Development Sociology; Demography; Epidemiology

I support projects that translate social science perspectives and information to the community.  Currently I am collaborating with Dr. Pilar Parra in a project examining and increasing participation of children of new Hispanic migrants in 4-H clubs in rural New York State.

I teach undergraduate and graduate courses as well as mentor undergraduate, graduate, and postdoctoral students in research. I approach teaching as seeking to provide students with conceptual and methodological tools that they can bring to bear upon topics and problems that they will deal with in the future. My teaching seeks to provide a balance in exposing and educating students about a variety of theoretical perspectives and research techniques, recognizing the strengths and weaknesses of each theory and method, and presenting specific substantive material.  My mentoring of students seeks to give them hands-on experience in pursuing social science research about food and nutrition topics.

NS 2450 - Social Science Perspectives on Food and Nutrition

  • BA 1972 - Bucknell University (Biology)
  • MA 1974 - University of Pennsylvania (Sociology) 
  • MPH 1983 - Johns Hopkins University (Behavioral Science, Nutrition, and Epidemiology)
  • PhD 1978 - University of Pennsylvania (Sociology)

Chair, Seach Committee for two positions in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, 2018-2019

Member, Search Committee for the Director of the Division of Social Sciences, 2018-2019

Member, Graduate Student Admissions Committee, Field of Nutrition, 2018-2019


Division of Nutritional Sciences Home Page

Cornell Food Choice Research Group Home Page