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Why Obesity?

Strong mother and daughter

Overweight and obesity represent significant threats to the health of our nation and our health care system.  In the United States, over a third of adults, 20% of adolescents, and 18% of children are obese, and an additional third of adults are overweight. This is important, because excess weight can increase a person’s risk of developing other conditions, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or cancer.  Conversely, weight loss reduces the risk of chronic diseases and health conditions. However losing weight and maintaining weight loss are difficult tasks for most people, and not everyone has the same choices and opportunities to achieve a healthy weight.

The UMass Chan Prevention Research Center is researching strategies that offer solutions to the problem of obesity, collaborating with many local groups to find ways to decrease obesity and increase healthy eating and physical activity in our lives and in our communities. Our research understands that addressing obesity is a complex problem that will require many types of solutions and strategies.

Strategies for promoting a healthy weight and healthier lifestyles may involve making changes in our community itself, such providing greater opportunities for people to be active by creating bicycle lanes and sidewalks so people can bike and walk around town safely, or making healthy foods accessible and affordable, like offering fruits and vegetables at corner stores, school, and worksites at reasonable prices.  Other strategies may involve helping people develop skills to be healthier at critical junctures of their lives, such as when they are children, pregnant, older, or facing high levels of emotional distress.  Recognizing that lifestyle behaviors are a key component of all aspects of life, our work is conducted in community, health care, worksite and school settings among others.

children running