Michele Polacsek

Michele Polacsek received her master's degree in international health in 1989 and her doctoral degree in public health social and behavioral science in 1994 from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She began her work in public health in the area of HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment and by 1994 she was working on chronic disease prevention and was doing community based teaching and research at the University of New Mexico where she held joint appointments in the departments of Communication and Journalism and Community Medicine Master's in Public Health Program. Michele began her work in Maine in 1998 at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service, Institute for Public Sector Innovation and in 1999 began work at the Maine Center for Public Health where she was the scientific director of the Maine Harvard Prevention Research Center from 2003-2008 and Senior Research Scientist from 2008-2009. Michele has taught in the University of New England Master's of Public Health program since 2006 and is a full time faculty member in the School of Community and Population Health on the Portland Campus. Michele's work currently focuses on chronic disease prevention and childhood obesity. Her recent work includes school based food and beverage marketing policy.


Childhood Obesity<br />Chronic Disease Prevention<br /><br />Social and Behavioral Health


Current Research

School based food and beverage marketing to youth

Grocery store healthy food incentives


Selected Publications

1.   Polacsek, M., Orr, J., O'Brien, L. M., Rogers, V. W., Fanburg, J., & Gortmaker, S.L. Sustainability of Key Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative Improvements: A Follow-Up Study. Childhood Obesity August 2014. 10(4):1-8.

2.   Polacsek, M., Obrien, L., Whatley-Blum, J., O’Rourke, K., Donahue, S. Examining a Statewide Law Banning Junk Food and Beverage Marketing in Maine Schools. Public Health Reports, March-April 2012. 127:216-223.

3.   Harris, D.E. PhD, Whatley-Blum, J. PhD, Brampton, M. PhD, O'Brien, L.M. PhD, Beaudoin, C.M. PhD, Polacsek, M. PhD MHS, O'Rourke, K.A. MPH. Food Stores Near Schools Do Not Predict the Weight Status of Maine High School Students. JNEB 2011; 43(4) 274-278.

4.   Whatley Blum JE, Beaudoin CM, O’Brien LM, Polacsek M, Harris DE, O’Rourke KA. Impact of Maine’s statewide nutrition policy on high school food environments. Prev Chronic Dis 2011;8(1).  http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2011/jan/09_0241.htm.

5.   O’Brien LM, Polacsek M, MacDonald P, Ellis J, Berry S, and Martin M, Impact of a School Health Coordinator Intervention on Health-Related School Policies and Student Behavior. Journal of School Health  2010, Volume 80, Issue 4 , Pages 176 – 185.

6.   Polacsek M. PHD MHS, Orr J. CHES, Letourneau L. MD MPH, Rogers V. MD, Holmberg R. MD MPH, O’Rourke K. MPH, Hannon C. MSW, Lombard K.A. MD, Gortmaker S.L. PHD, Impact of a Primary Care Intervention on Physician Practice and Patient and Family Behavior: Keep ME Healthy: The Maine Youth Overweight Collaborative. Pediatrics, 2009;123: S258-S266.

7.   Martin SL, Maines D, Martin MW, MacDonald PB, Polacsek M, Wigand D, et al. Healthy Maine Partnerships: policy and environmental changes. Prev Chronic Dis 2009;6(2). http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2009/apr/08_0123.htm.

8.   Polacsek M, O’Brien LM, Lagasse W, Hammar N. Move & Improve: a worksite wellness program in Maine. Prev Chronic Dis. 2006 Jul;3(3):A101

9.   Wallerstein, N., Polacsek, M., and Maltrud, K., "Participatory Evaluation Model for Coalitions: The Development of Systems Indicators”,  Health Promot Pract, July 2002, 3(3):361-373.

10. Polacsek, M., and Rogers, E., and Woodall G, Delaney, H., Wheeler, D., Rao, N., “MADD Victim Impact Panels and Stages of Change in Drunk-Driving Prevention”, Journal of Studies on Alcohol :  May 2001:344-350.

11. M. Polacsek, D.D. Celentano, P. O'Campo, and J. Santelli, "Correlates of Condom Use Stage of Change: Implications for Intervention", AIDS Educ Prev: 1999, 11(1):38-52.

12. J. Santelli, A.C. Kouzis, D.R. Hoover, M. Polacsek, L.G. Burwell, D.D. Celentano, "Stage of Behavior Change For Condom Use: The Influence of Partner Type, Relationship, and Pregnancy Factors", (1998), Fam Plann Perspect, 28(3):101-7.

13. Participatory evaluation workbook for community initiatives. N Wallerstein, K Maltrud, M Polacsek - 1997 - New Mexico: Department of Health.

14. J. Santelli, D.D. Celentano, C. Rozenicz, A. Davis, M. Davis, M. Polacsek, M. Augustyn, J. Rolf, A. McAlister, L. Burwell, (1995) "Interim Outcomes for a Community Based Program to Prevent Perinatal HIV Transmission", AIDS Educ Prev, 7(3):210-20.

15. M. Nebot, D.D. Celentano, L. Burwell, A. Davis, M. Davis, M. Polacsek, and J. Santelli, (1994) “Behavioral Risk Factors Related to AIDS among Sexually Active Inner City Females: A Comparison of Telephone and Face to Face Surveys”,  Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 48:412-418.

Funded Grants

Principal Investigator: (current) CHOICES Cost Effectiveness Studies for Maine Obesity Prevention. $60,000. June 1, 2014-June 30, 2015. Harvard School of Public Health.

Principal Investigator: (current) Supporting school compliance with updated food and beverage marketing policies that align with the new federal competitive food standards. February 1, 2013-June 30, 2015. $170,000.00. Grant #71639. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research Program Round 8

Co-investigator (current): Clinical Intervention to Prevent Childhood Obesity and Chronic Disease Risk, Maine Harvard Prevention Research Center. CDC cooperative agreement# U48/CCU115807.

Principal Investigator (complete): Maine School Health Policy Decision-Making.

University of New England Patient and Population Oriented Research Grant. $12,000 matching grant to Bingham Program grant. January 1, 2012-December 31, 2012.

Principal Investigator (complete): Maine School Health Policy Decision-Making. The Bingham Program $8,000: June 1, 2011-May 31, 2012.

Principal Investigator: (complete) Examination of a statewide law banning junk food and beverage marketing in Maine schools. November 1, 2009-Oct 31, 2010. $75,000.00. Grant #66961. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research Program Round 4.

Co-investigator (complete): Impact of Maine’s Statewide Rule on High School NutritionEnvironments and Students Dietary Behaviors. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ID#57920.

Michele Polacsek Profile Picture

Michele Polacsek


Ph.D., M.H.S.

Associate Professor of Public Health

Linnell Hall


(207) 221-4466