Obesity

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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.

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    Journal Article

    Improved Access May Not Be the Key to Addressing Food Deserts

    Dec 9, 2014

    As part of the ongoing battle to fight obesity in the U.S., current policies are aimed at improving access to healthy foods, especially in neighborhoods designated as food deserts. However, research indicates proximity to full-service supermarkets was unrelated to weight or dietary quality.

  • Food court signs in Las Vegas, photo by Graffizone/iStock

    Commentary

    Always Hungry? Here's the Real Reason Why

    Aug 15, 2014

    The problem of obesity cannot be attributed to a single dietary or physiological factor, like too much sugar, too much fat, or even factors like viruses, bacteria, and endocrine disrupters. The real problem is that Americans now live in a food swamp and there is just too much food easily available.

Explore Obesity

  • News Release

    No Evidence That Los Angeles Fast-Food Curbs Have Improved Diets or Cut Obesity

    A Los Angeles ordinance designed to curb obesity in low-income areas by restricting the opening of new fast-food restaurants has failed to reduce fast-food consumption or obesity. Since the restrictions were passed in 2008, overweight and obesity rates in neighborhoods targeted by the law have increased faster than in other parts of the city or other parts of the county.

    Mar 19, 2015

  • Customers holding fast food in South Los Angeles in August 2008 said they weren't planning to give it up

    Journal Article

    LA Fast-Food Ban Did Not Improve Diets or Cut Obesity

    A Los Angeles ordinance designed to curb obesity in low-income areas by restricting the opening of new fast-food restaurants has failed to reduce fast-food consumption or obesity. Since the restrictions were passed in 2008, overweight and obesity rates in neighborhoods targeted by the law have increased faster than in other parts of the city or other parts of the county.

    Mar 17, 2015

  • African-American woman looking down

    Journal Article

    Depression May Increase Obesity Risk

    Significant links were found between depression, poor nutrition, and obesity in a low-income, primarily African-American “food desert” in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Mental health interventions may have broader benefits in this population.

    Mar 11, 2015

  • Woman comparing soda labels in a supermarket

    Commentary

    Supermarkets Are the Problem

    Thirty percent of all supermarket sales can be attributed to end-of-aisle displays, where retailers have placed more foods that increase the risk of obesity and chronic diseases. Relocating those foods to less conspicuous places would still allow those who want them to get them, but the decision to buy would be deliberate rather than impulsive.

    Feb 26, 2015

  • Journal Article

    School-based Program Options to Promote Physical Activity: A Response

    This commentary is a response to PM-14-1065R1 and addresses issues raised regarding research presented in PM-14-443, published in the December 2014 supplement of Preventive Medicine.

    Feb 13, 2015

  • Obesity street sign over mountain of food

    Content

    Obesity

    RAND Health investigates the prevention, treatment, and impact of obesity, including chronic medical conditions.

    Feb 12, 2015

  • Attention-getting sale balloon at a grocery store

    Journal Article

    In-Store Promotions and Obesity Risk: Is There a Connection?

    A close look at marketing tactics (like special displays and price cuts) in Pittsburgh "food deserts" revealed that stores allocate more price reductions to low-nutrient foods than to healthy choices. These strategies are associated with increased body mass among regular shoppers, but more research is needed to confirm a causal link to obesity.

    Jan 7, 2015

  • A blurry convenience store aisle

    Commentary

    A New Year's Resolution: Target Practices That Undermine Weight Control

    Many will vow to lose weight in the coming year, but most will inevitably fail, not from lack of motivation or knowledge but from insuperable forces undermining their best intentions. America should resolve to address obesity where it begins: the point of purchase.

    Dec 29, 2014

  • Young children play Twister in the classrom

    Journal Article

    Two Strategies Make the Grade in Helping Kids Get Healthier

    Schools use a number of strategies to increase students' physical activity—before- and after-school programs, extended PE classes, and short activity breaks—but does their impact outweigh their costs? Two strategies proved superior in terms of reach and cost per student.

    Dec 19, 2014

  • Journal Article

    Impact of Food Support on Food Security and Body Weight Among HIV Antiretroviral Therapy Recipients in Honduras: A Pilot Intervention Trial

    Optimal strategies to improve food security and nutrition for people living with HIV (PLHIV) may differ in settings where overweight and obesity are prevalent and cardiovascular disease risk is a concern.

    Dec 11, 2014

  • A woman reading a menu at a restaurant

    Commentary

    Calorie Labels Won't Fix America's Problem with Away-From-Home Food

    The FDA's new guidelines for calorie labeling on restaurant menus, retail establishments like convenience stores and movie theaters, and vending machines are a long-due recognition that eating away from home can be hazardous to health. But the new mandate falls far short of providing the necessary fix.

    Dec 10, 2014

  • Journal Article

    Regular Physical Activity Has Differential Association with Reduced Obesity Among Diverse Youth in the United States

    This study examined whether daily or almost daily lower-intensity physical activity was associated with reduced obesity, among 4,824 African American, Hispanic, and White youth assessed in 5th and 7th grades.

    Dec 9, 2014

  • The view from a shopping cart at a grocery store

    Journal Article

    Improved Access May Not Be the Key to Addressing Food Deserts

    As part of the ongoing battle to fight obesity in the U.S., current policies are aimed at improving access to healthy foods, especially in neighborhoods designated as food deserts. However, research indicates proximity to full-service supermarkets was unrelated to weight or dietary quality.

    Dec 9, 2014

  • College students in a cafeteria line

    Commentary

    To Fight Obesity, Make UC a Laboratory

    With its Global Food Initiative, the University of California is seeking ways to help the billion people who go to bed hungry each night. At the same time, UC could also be addressing obesity. Experimenting with changes to the food environment and documenting their impact on diet and weight gain would accelerate progress on this national problem not just for students, but for all Americans.

    Oct 30, 2014

  • Fresh produce at a grocery store

    Commentary

    Location, Location, Location: Does the Food Desert Narrative Hold Up?

    There's little rigorous evidence to support the notion that 'food deserts' are driving the U.S. obesity epidemic but this narrative has nearly become conventional wisdom. In response, stakeholders have poured hundreds of millions into bringing supermarkets to these neighborhoods.

    Oct 28, 2014

  • Obese man in a crowd

    Research Brief

    Too Much of a Good Thing? How the Economic Environment Plays a Role in the Obesity Epidemic

    RAND researchers looking at the growth of obesity rates over time found that the epidemic has been fueled by historically low food prices relative to income and constant availability, which have driven high consumption.

    Aug 22, 2014

  • Food court signs in Las Vegas

    Commentary

    Always Hungry? Here's the Real Reason Why

    The problem of obesity cannot be attributed to a single dietary or physiological factor, like too much sugar, too much fat, or even factors like viruses, bacteria, and endocrine disrupters. The real problem is that Americans now live in a food swamp and there is just too much food easily available.

    Aug 15, 2014

  • Shopping basket in supermarket

    Commentary

    What's Behind the Obesity Epidemic? Easily Accessible Food, and Lots of It

    That no group is immune to rising obesity rates suggests that universal environmental factors are driving the trend. The clearest change concerns food availability and cost.

    Jul 22, 2014

  • Journal Article

    Pscanner: Patient-Centered Scalable National Network for Effectiveness Research

    This article describes the patient-centered Scalable National Network for Effectiveness Research (pSCANNER), which is part of the recently formed PCORnet, a national network composed of learning healthcare systems and patient-powered research networks funded by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI).

    Jul 1, 2014

  • Report

    Danger in the Aisles? Safely Navigating the Grocery Store Can Be Harder Than It Sounds

    Have you ever come home with a grocery bag full of food that you didn't mean to buy? That's because you might have less control over your food choices than you think. This infographic presents six things to ask yourself as you navigate the aisles.

    May 23, 2014