Obesity/Chronic Disease Prevention

Obseity Concentration

The United States is ranked among the highest obesity rates in the world. The White House’s Childhood Obesity Task Force reports that about 20 percent of U.S. children are obese. According to the Task Force, this rate has more than tripled since 1980, costing an estimated $3 billion in direct medical costs. In addition, about 27 percent of U.S. adults are obese, according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity is linked to serious medical conditions, including certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Therefore, preventing obesity at a young age and through the lifespan, before an unhealthy weight gain trajectory is established, is a public health priority. Scientists and doctors agree that rising obesity rates in the United States and its related chronic health conditions result from an interaction of factors, including lifestyle factors, lack of adequate education, and the structural disenfranchisement of many lower-income communities and diverse populations that restricts access to healthy foods and opportunities for physical activity. The Institute on Urban Health Research and Practice (IUHRP) staff and faculty considers all these forces in their advocacy and research related to health promoting approaches. In the Boston area, IUHRP collaborates with community-based organizations and health care professionals to provide evidence-based nutrition education to teachers and parents of preschoolers. In addition, IUHRP supports high-quality programs that offer community play and physical activity to urban families. Current research at the Institute documents the availability of healthy food in urban areas and examines causes of obesity. In collaboration with other organizations, IUHRP raises awareness, researches food deserts and sedentariness, and helps to advocate for policies and implement programs that increase the availability of healthy foods and access to physical activity in urban neighborhoods.

Principal Investigator

Associated Projects