J. Joseph Speidel

Online Profile
Author welcomes queries regarding

J. Joseph Speidel MD, MPH is an author, scholar and advocate for public health. He is a graduate of Harvard College, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard School of Public Health and a professor emeritus at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical School. Previously he directed the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of Population, was president of Population Action International (PAI), directed the population grants program at the Hewlett Foundation and was Co-director, of the UCSF Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health. At USAID and the Hewlett Foundation, Dr. Speidel was responsible for managing development assistance and charitable awards totaling more than $1 billion.

Dr. Speidel is board certified in Preventive Medicine and serves on the Editorial Board of the University of California, Berkeley Wellness Newsletter. He has authored more than 300 scientific publications in the field of health and population, and more than 50 health-related scientific reports that are posted on the website Catalyst for Children (, that provides educational materials to improve the welfare of children and youth.

As president of PAI, Dr. Speidel gave more than 750 interviews with print media and made more than 250 radio, TV, and personal appearances including on ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, BBC, Voice of America, and on talk shows including Good Morning America, The Charlie Rose Show, and Larry King Live.

He is a recipient of the Arthur S. Flemming Award for outstanding young men in government, the Carl S. Schulz Award of the American Public Health Association, the Family Planning Visionary Award of the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association, and the Allan Rosenfield Award for Lifetime Contributions to International Family Planning of the Society of Family Planning.

Dr. Speidel’s book, The Building Blocks of Health––How to Optimize Your Health with a Lifestyle Checklist, will help Americans adopt a lifestyle that will reverse much of the damage from their unhealthy way of living that leads to illness and premature death. The book focuses on important health-related topics such as nutrition, weight control, heart disease, cancer and dementia.



BY J. Joseph Speidel • POSTED ON Dec. 26, 2020

A physician offers a research-based guide to good health.

This debut by Speidel, a doctor, professor emeritus, and public health expert, is an all-encompassing manual that focuses on “the science that underlies a health-restoring, health-preserving lifestyle and warns against unproven claims.” In a straightforward, unadulterated manner, the author enumerates the “building blocks” of a healthy lifestyle; he covers virtually every aspect in 16 chapters that range from nutrition and weight control to mental health and the prevention of specific diseases. Speidel begins with a useful “Lifestyle Checklist,” describing the various elements of a healthy lifestyle and including a handy, literal checklist of beneficial behaviors, cross-referenced to the book’s subsequent chapters. Each chapter is remarkably comprehensive in scope and detail, providing a wealth of information as well as extensive references to current scientific studies and relevant sources. A nice touch that puts the guide on a more personal level is the occasional sidebar entitled “My Story,” in which Speidel writes anecdotally about some of his own health-related experiences. One good example of the high quality of the volume’s contents is “Optimal Nutrition,” a chapter so thorough that it could easily have been expanded into a separate book. Here, the author addresses the American diet; basic facts about food and nutrition; the risks associated with sugar, carbohydrates, and fats; cholesterol; types of diets and their positive/negative effects; nutrition labels; organic foods; gluten-free items; and more. Many studies are referenced and footnoted, and a “Summary of the essential facts” is appended to the end of this as well as other chapters. Whether it is material on the prevention of cardiovascular disease, the benefits of physical activity, or a look at environmental pollutants and toxins, Speidel takes the same care in clearly presenting unbiased information. He is painstaking and methodical in his coverage of each topic, backing up any claims with research studies; the author even helpfully includes a final chapter that explains how to understand scientific data. While some readers may find the research references overwhelming, most should welcome their veracity. Also notable: The work’s content is exceedingly current (including a section on Covid-19).

An authoritative, encyclopedic, and illuminating wellness manual.

Pub Date: Dec. 26, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-952762-00-0

Page count: 600pp

Publisher: JJ Webster Publishing

Review Posted Online: March 9, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2021

Awards, Press & Interests