Skip to:

William J. McCarthy

Adjunct Professor


DepartmentsType of Faculty
Health Policy and ManagementFull Time
Contact Information

UCLA Fielding School of Public Health / Department of Health Policy and Management / A2-125 CHS

Areas of Interest: 

Randomized controlled trial research on behavioral strategies to encourage healthier eating, increased physical activity and avoidance of tobacco smoke.

Epidemiological research into the association of primordial prevention (adherence to federal nutrition, physical activity and tobacco control guidelines in healthy individuals) with specific health outcomes (cancer outcomes, cardiovascular disease, diabetes)

Experimental research designed to tease out the mechanisms by which aggregating concurrent health risks (e.g. sedentariness, smoking, low-fiber intake) yields cumulative increases in negative health outcomes

Dr. McCarthy has devoted most of his 30-year career to intervention studies designed to encourage members of special populations to adhere to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans (African American adult women, low-income middle school students, low-income patients of community health centers) and to be smokefree (WIC participants, aerospace workers, Korean and South Asian immigrants, residents of homeless shelters). He has also conducted epidemiological investigations of tobacco use in special populations (adolescents, Asian subpopulations, residents of homeless shelters). Dr. McCarthy received the 1994 American Cancer Society Capitol Dome award for his career of public service, the 1994 Health Fitness Leader award from the L.A. County Board of Supervisors, and the 2013 American Cancer Society St. George Medal for his exemplary volunteer activities. He received his research training at Yale University (Psychology Ph.D.) and the University of Illinois (Psychology, M.A.).

Teaching. Dr. McCarthy teaches "Obesity, Physical Activity and Nutrition" (HS M255 / CHS M234). He also teaches Psychology 217 -" Behavioral Determinants of Primary Prevention: An Intervention Approach."

Research. Dr. McCarthy co-directed the Center for Population Health and Health Disparities (CPHHD), which focused on home and neighborhood environmental approaches to reducing heart disease risk in the mostly immigrant Mexican American residents of East Los Angeles. For 11 years he was chief evaluator of California's tobacco use education efforts in the state's public middle and high schools. He and his UCLA and community partner colleagues are currently examining telephone counseling and lay health worker modalities for providing low-cost, high-impact lifestyle counseling to low-income patients of local community health centers to reduce their risk of cancer and diabetes through loss of excess body weight.

Service. He has been a member of and chaired regional and state committees on nutrition and wellness for the American Cancer Society. He continues to volunteer for the American Cancer Society, especially to promote public policies that promote more healthful lifestyle choices. He chaired a Health Advisory Committee for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District for 7 years. His enthusiasm for promoting healthful eating practices extends to his clothes. He has the sartorial distinction of wearing more fruit and vegetable-theme neck ties than any other faculty member. 

PhD, Psychology, Yale University
MA, Psychology, University of Illinois
This faculty member is available to serve as: 
Doctoral Advisor
Masters Advisor
PhD Committee Member
DrPH Committee Member
MS Thesis Committee Member

Please check with the faculty member or their office about availability to serve during current academic period.

Committee Participation: 

Ph.D. Admissions Committee for the Dept. of Health Policy & Management

Selected Courses: 
HP M255/CHS M234: "Obesity, physical activity and nutrition-a policy-oriented course"
Psych 217, section 2: "Lifestyle Determinants of Health Promotion: Multilevel Behavior-Change Approach"
Selected Publications: 
  • Cavallo DN, Berger MH, McCarthy WJ. Associations between levels of adherence to MyPlate dietary guidelines and cardiovascular disease risk factors. J. Acad. Nutr. Diet. 2016-in press.
  • Hohl SD, Thompson B, Krok-Schoen JL, et al. Characterizing Community Health Workers on Research Teams: Results From the Centers for Population Health and Health Disparities. Am J Public Health. 2016:e1-e7.
  • Mistry R, Pednekar M, Pimple S, et al. Banning tobacco sales and advertisements near educational institutions may reduce students' tobacco use risk: evidence from Mumbai, India. Tob. Control. 2015;24(E1):E100-E107.
  • McGuirt JT, Jilcott SB, Ammerman AS, et al. A Mixed Methods Comparison of Urban and Rural Retail Corner Stores. AIMS Public Health. 2015:554-582.
  • Bostean G, Trinidad DR, McCarthy WJ. E-Cigarette Use Among Never-Smoking California Students. Am J Public Health. 2015;105(12):2423-2425.
  • Mistry R, Babu GR, Mahapatra T, McCarthy WJ. Cognitive mediators and disparities in the relation between teen depressiveness and smoking. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014;140:56-62.
  • Gase LN, McCarthy WJ, Robles B, Kuo T. Student receptivity to new school meal offerings: Assessing fruit and vegetable waste among middle school students in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Prev. Med. 2014;67:S28-S33.
  • Bassett JC, Gore JL, Kwan L, et al. Knowledge of the Harms of Tobacco Use Among Patients With Bladder Cancer. Cancer. 2014;120(24):3914-3922.
  • Bharmal N, Kaplan RM, Shapiro MF, et al. The association of religiosity with overweight/obese body mass index among Asian Indian immigrants in California. Prev Med. 2013;57(4):315-321.
  • Bassett JC, Gore JL, McCarthy WJ, et al. Introduction of a tobacco-screening initiative for those at risk for bladder cancer in a high volume urology clinic. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2013;31(15):1.
  • Rabe GL, Wellmann J, Bagos P, et al. Efficacy of emergency department initiated tobacco control - Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Nicotine and Tobacco Research. 2013;15(3):643-655.
  • Hopkins J, Glenn BA, Cole B, McCarthy, WJ, Yancey AK. Implementing Organizational Physical Activity and Healthy Eating Strategies on Paid Time: Process Evaluation of the UCLA WORKING Pilot Study. Health Education & Behavior. 2012; 27: 385-398.
  • McCarthy WJ, Meza R, Jeon J, Moolgavkar SH. Chapter 6. Lung cancer in never smokers. Epidemiology and risk prediction models. Risk Analysis, 2012; 32: S1.
  • Moolgavkar SH, Holford TR, Levy DT, Kong CY, Foy M, Clarke L, Jeon J, Hazelton W, Meza R, Schultz F, McCarthy W, Boer R, Gorlova O, Gazelle GS, Kimmel M, McMahon P, de Koning H, Feuer EJ. Impact of the reduction in tobacco smoking on lung cancer mortality in the U.S. over the period 1975-2000. Journal of the National Cancer Institute. 2012; 104: 541-548.
  • Mistry R, McCarthy WJ, DeVogli R, Patel M, Wu Q. Adolescent smoking risk increases with wider income gaps between the rich and poor. Health & Place. 2011, 17: 222-229.
  • Park H-Y, Dent C, Abramsohn E, Dietsch B, McCarthy WJ. Evaluation of California’s In-School Tobacco Use Prevention Education (TUPE) Activities using a Nested School-Longitudinal Design, 2003-2004 and 2005-2006. Tobacco Control. 2010; 19(Suppl 1): i43-i50. doi:10.1136/tc.2009.030700.
  • Roberts CK, Freed B, McCarthy WJ. Low Aerobic Fitness and Obesity Are Associated With Lower Standardized Test Scores in Children. Journal of Pediatrics. 2010; 156: 711-718. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2009.11.039
  • McCarthy WJ, Mistry R, Lu Y, Patel M, Zheng H, Dietsch, B. Density of Tobacco Retailers Near Schools: Effects on Tobacco Use Among Students American Journal of Public Health. 2009; 99: 2006-2013