A photo of Sanita Ley.

Sanita Ley, PhD

  • Pediatric Psychologist, Behavioral Medicine and Clinical Psychology
  • Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics



As a pediatric psychologist, I help children and adolescents with a wide variety of medical conditions by tailoring evidence-based treatments to fit their individual and family situations. Some of my areas of specialty include feeding, pediatric obesity and bariatrics. I also counsel patients who have weight-related medical conditions, including type 2 diabetes and non- alcoholic fatty liver disease.

I was drawn to pediatric psychology because I wanted to help children and adolescents with acute and chronic medical conditions, along with their families, overcome emotional, behavioral and/or thinking barriers that were keeping them from living the life they want to live.

In addition to helping patients, I also do research that focuses on improving outcomes for children and adolescents with obesity.

In my free time, I like to read, run, travel, and spend time with family and friends.


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Unhealthy Eating, Psychopathology, and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Youth Presenting for Bariatric Surgery. Ley, SL; Zeller, MH; Reiter-Purtill, J; Kleiner, DE; Dixon, J; Xanthakos, S. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2021; 73:670-676.

Weight change predicts college adjustment and depressive symptoms among first-year college students. Garr, K; Odar Stough, C; Godfrey, LM; Ley, SL. Journal of American College Health. 2021; 1-7.

Change, predictors and correlates of weight- and health-related quality of life in adolescents 2-years following bariatric surgery. Reiter-Purtill, J; Ley, S; Kidwell, KM; Mikhail, C; Austin, H; Chaves, E; Rofey, DL; Jenkins, TM; Inge, TH; Zeller, MH; et al. International Journal of Obesity. 2020; 44:1467-1478.

Suicidal thoughts and behaviors in adolescents who underwent bariatric surgery. Zeller, MH; Reiter-Purtill, J; Jenkins, TM; Kidwell, KM; Bensman, HE; Mitchell, JE; Courcoulas, AP; Inge, TH; Ley, SL; Gordon, KH; et al. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases. 2020; 16:568-580.

Community Socioeconomic Deprivation and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Severity. Orkin, S; Brokamp, C; Yodoshi, T; Trout, AT; Liu, C; Meryum, S; Taylor, S; Wolfe, C; Sheridan, R; Seth, A; et al. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2020; 70:364-370.

Halo or horn? A qualitative study of mothers' experiences with feeding children during the first year following bariatric surgery. Zeller, MH; Robson, SM; Reiter-Purtill, J; Kidwell, KM; Kharofa, RY; McCullough, MB; Crosby, LE; Howarth, T; Comstock, SE; Ley, SL; et al. Appetite. 2019; 142.

Psychotropic Medications Are Associated With Increased Liver Disease Severity in Pediatric Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Mouzaki, M; Yodoshi, T; Arce-Clachar, AC; Bramlage, K; Fei, L; Ley, SL; Xanthakos, SA. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition. 2019; 69:339-343.

Predictors of Preoperative Program Non-Completion in Adolescents Referred for Bariatric Surgery. Brode, C; Ratcliff, M; Reiter-Purtill, J; Hunsaker, S; Helmrath, M; Zeller, M. Obesity Surgery. 2018; 28:2853-2859.

A Multisite 2-Year Follow Up of Psychopathology Prevalence, Predictors, and Correlates Among Adolescents Who Did or Did Not Undergo Weight Loss Surgery. Hunsaker, SL; Garland, BH; Rofey, D; Reiter-Purtill, J; Mitchell, J; Courcoulas, A; Jenkins, TM; Zeller, MH. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2018; 63:142-150.

From adolescence to young adulthood: trajectories of psychosocial health following Roux-en-Y gastric bypass. Zeller, MH; Pendery, EC; Reiter-Purtill, J; Hunsaker, SL; Jenkins, TM; Helmrath, MA; Inge, TH. Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases. 2017; 13:1196-1203.

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