Obesity is associated with such diseases as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, stroke, and some forms of cancer. RAND has investigated and continues to research the complicated interaction between environmental and genetic factors that contribute to the adult and childhood obesity crisis in the United States.
To identify the policies that will make a big fat dent in obesity rates, we first need an accurate diagnosis: Americans are overweight and obese because they are inundated with too much food. The use of impulse marketing strategies has skyrocketed, with invitations to indulge at every turn.
Just as we needed policies to protect people from having alcohol thrust in their faces everywhere they went, we need to develop and implement policies that protect people from food cues and triggers designed to make them eat when they're not hungry and over-consume.
The obesity epidemic is among the most critical health issues facing the United States. Although it has generated a lot of attention and calls for solutions, it also has served up a super-sized portion of myths and misunderstandings.
During the holiday season, a time when overindulgence is a tradition for many, food marketing creates especially serious challenges for people trying to limit their intake and make careful decisions about healthier eating.
The American Medical Association officially designated obesity as a disease, hoping to help change the way doctors approach the issue with their patients, increase funding for research on effective treatments, spur insurers to cover prescription weight loss medications, and maybe even help de-stigmatize the condition.
Colleges should acknowledge their responsibility not to put their students — and my son — at risk for weight gain, obesity and the host of chronic diseases related to poor diets, writes Deborah Cohen. Students have to make their own food choices, but it's colleges who're setting the table.
A combination of things might well slow the obesity epidemic while also improving the American people's overall nutritional well-being: lowering prices on healthier food, initiatives to control portion sizes, and a long-term campaign to support better food quality.
New York should see the judge's ruling as an opportunity to revise the law to close the loopholes, including the Big Gulp exemption, and develop regulations in line with the scientific consensus that even 16 ounces is way too much, writes Deborah Cohen.
People who consume just one or two sugar-sweetened drinks a day have a 26 percent greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people who rarely drink these beverages, write Kristin Van Busum and Lauren Hunter.
In an era of budget constraints, policymakers confronting the U.S. obesity crisis need strong evidence from projects like PHRESH to inform decisions about where and how to invest, writes Tamara Dubowitz.
Although placement is a factor that is right in front of our noses, we should consider treating it as a hidden risk factor, like carcinogens in water, because placement influences our food choices in a way that is largely automatic and out of our conscious control, write Deborah A. Cohen and Susan H. Babey.
Rather than obstructing freedom of choice, New York City's ban on big soda containers ban actually enhances it, write Lauren Hunter and Kristin Van Busum.
Much of the talk has focused on how New York City's ban on sugary drinks, intended to curb obesity by improving dietary choices for consumers, will restrict individuals’ options. Of course, even after the ban, consumers can still buy a second soda. But they might want to take a moment to think about the consequences before doing so, writes Chloe Bird.
It is time we treated food with the same respect we hold for the power of alcohol. It's time to develop and implement regulations that will help us moderate our diets and stem the obesity epidemic, write Deborah Cohen and Lila Rabinovich.
We will be more successful at stemming the growing tide of obesity and improving our own health if everyone accepts their share of responsibility for the obesity epidemic, write Chloe E. Bird and Tamara Dubowitz.
Regulations requiring the restaurant industry to serve standardized portion sizes should be mandated and enforced by the same authorities responsible for checking hygienic conditions in food outlets, writes Deborah Cohen.
If we want to make progress on the now-global obesity epidemic, we must challenge the status quo and make unhealthy food the new tobacco, writes Helen Wu.
In terms of healthcare use and chronic health conditions, obesity is comparable to aging 20 years, with the health of a 30 year old resembling that of a 50 year old, writes Roland Sturm.
Published commentary by RAND staff: Marketing is Making Us Fat, in United Press International.
Published commentary by RAND staff: A Desired Epidemic: Obesity and the Food Industry, in Washingtonpost.com.