John M. Jakicic, a nationally recognized expert in physical activity and weight management, will present a public lecture at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

His presentation, titled, “Positioning Lifestyle for Enhanced Treatment of Obesity,” is part of the VTCRI Distinguished Public Lecture Series and is co-sponsored by the VTCRI Center for Transformative Research on Health Behaviors.

Jakicic is the Distinguished Professor and chair of the Department of Health and Physical Activity at the University of Pittsburgh, where he also directs both the Healthy Lifestyle Institute and the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center.

His research focuses on the physical behaviors that influence weight management. His study on the benefits — or lack thereof — of fitness trackers made headlines last year when it appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Jakicic and his team found that study participants were more likely to lose weight if they did not wear fitness trackers. The results were covered by NPR and BBC News, among other outlets.

The results weren’t what Jakicic expected, but they were valuable in underlining that how individual people incorporate the technology into their lives — is a step counter motivational or discouraging? — is not well understood. 

“These devices have some really cool tech, but how do you use them in a way that helps people?” asked Jakicic in his interview with NPR. “That's a science in and of itself.”

Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh, Jakicic conducted research at the Brown University School of Medicine at the Weight Control and Diabetes Research Center at Miriam Hospital. Jakicic earned his undergraduate degree at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania and completed his doctorate at the University of Pittsburgh.

The VTCRI Distinguished Public Lecture Series brings the world’s leading biomedical researchers and scientific thought leaders to Roanoke as part of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute’s mission to engage the community in the excitement and promise of scientific research. The free lectures are open to the general public as well as to Virginia Tech and Carilion faculty, students, and staff.

A brief reception will precede the lecture at 4:30 p.m.