Periodic updates to Congress on RAND's work in the Gulf States region | Web version

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March 2013

Gulf States Policy Institute


VIDEO: Hill briefing on RAND's contributions to Louisiana coastal planning … The Global Methane Initiative: Converting harmful emissions to usable energy … Focus on obesity

Featured Research

VIDEO: Hill Briefing on RAND's Contributions to Louisiana Coastal Planning

Aerial views of Hurricane Sandy damage to homes on Long Beach, photo by Andrea Booher/FEMA

In this January 2013 Congressional Briefing, Jordan Fischbach describes RAND's work on the 2012 Coastal Master Plan and key lessons that can make other communities more resilient in the face of natural disasters.

View the video »

Listen to the audio »

The Global Methane Initiative: Converting Harmful Emissions to Usable Energy

an oceacn gas rig emits methane

Methane is the primary component of natural gas and a by-product of decomposition from landfills, agricultural activities, and wastewater treatment--sources that are common in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama and nearly every other U.S. state. Methane emissions have more than 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide, but they can be reduced if they are captured and put to use as energy for heating, cooking, and electricity generation. A recent RAND study found evidence that the Global Methane Initiative is contributing to emissions reductions and that the contributions of the U.S. State Department play a major role.

Read the blog post »

Read the report »

Focus on Obesity

Obesity is associated with such diseases as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular problems, hypertension, stroke, and some forms of cancer. According to a 2012 Centers for Disease Control report based on 2011 data, 34.9 percent of adults are obese in Mississippi, 33.4 percent in Louisiana, and 32 percent in Alabama. That puts them at numbers 1, 2, and 4 nationwide; West Virginia took the number 3 slot. In fact, Mississippi consistently ranks as the state with the highest obesity rate in the nation. 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. Read more »

The Super Bowl Halftime Show Should Not Be Promoting a Public Health Threat

couple watching football on TV and cheering

A substantial body of research has emerged linking the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, even in moderate amounts, to obesity-related health conditions. Read the commentary »

Can the Bloomberg Regulation on Portion Size Reduce Obesity?

a large cup of soda

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's ban on large sugary drinks shows that policymakers—as well as health experts—are concerned about the effects of food portions on obesity in America. Consumers' dietary behaviors are often irrational, particularly when it comes to portion size, making many such regulations viable says RAND's Deborah Cohen. Read more »

What Happens When a "Food Desert" Gets an Oasis?

shopping for lettuce

"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 RAND researcher Tamara Dubowitz. PHRESH is the largest study ever in the United States to explore how characteristics of neighborhoods—things like access to fresh fruits, vegetables and meats—make neighborhoods and residents more or less healthy. Findings from the study should be especially relevant for policymakers allocating resources in poor and urban neighborhoods where grocery stores are scarce. Read more »

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RAND Congressional Resources Staff

Winfield Boerckel
Director, Office of Congressional Relations

Laura Selway
Legislative Analyst

RAND Office of Congressional Relations
(703) 413-1100, ext. 5395


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The RAND Gulf States Policy Institute was created in 2005 to support hurricane recovery and long-term economic development in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. Today, RAND Gulf States provides objective analysis to federal, state, and local leaders in support of evidence-based policymaking and the well-being of individuals throughout the Gulf States region. For more information, visit

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