Obesity: A Complex Crisis

Obesity is a public health emergency; a majority of Americans are currently overweight and a significant fraction are likely to suffer adverse health impacts including diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and even cancer. This course investigates the ways lifestyle, culture, socioeconomic factors, and the food industry all interface with biology to impact body weight. Students discuss mounting scientific evidence that obesity is, to a significant degree, inherited and the impact this knowledge should have on approaches to the problem. The course surveys both popular and scientific works relevant to the causes of the obesity epidemic, drawing connections while promoting critical analysis and discussion. This class emphasizes the multifactorial causes of obesity, through engagement with both popular and scientific literature, reinforced through student writing and feedback.