Several professors involved in the Obesity Initiative are teaching first-year Odyssey classes that include obesity discussions. Look out for a longer story later! Check out a few of these below:
Childhood and Adult Obesities
Instructor: Cliff Baile, Obesity Initiative director
Currently, more than one billion adults are overweight and at least 300 million are clinically obese. This seminar will cover the latest research on causes of obesity, such as neurobiological impacts on metabolism, effects of diet composition, the role of maternal gestational obesity on development of obesity in children, and social environmental influences upon eating and physical activity behavior. We will also discuss the physiological effects of excess adipose tissue, including diabetes, bone loss, cardiovascular disease, and the economic impacts of the obesity epidemic on an already stressed healthcare system. Finally, we will discuss effective treatment and prevention modalities for both children and adults at the individual and community levels. Course activities will include reading original research papers, in-class discussion of topics, and preparation of a report on a related topic.
Junk Food, Health Food and Choices
Instructor: Louise Wicker, professor of food science and technology
Are you interested in science and math and like applications of chemistry? Did you know that obesity is the number one health care issue in the U.S.? Does your diet consist mainly of pizza, hamburgers, fries and soft drinks? Are you frightened by stories of red slime in your hamburger, BPA in your water bottle, genetically modified foods or pesticides in your foods? Global sourcing of foods and food ingredients, mass production of foods, a comparison of locally grown and organic with conventional foods, the healthfulness of foods from center aisles of the grocery store or from fast food restaurants will be discussed. At the end of this course, students will know how to access credible information on foods, source, function and safety of food ingredients, and make wiser decisions about food choices. Format will include readings on foods and food ingredients and impact on health, videos, written assignments and class room discussion.
Nutrition and Health
Instructor: Silvia Giraudo, associate professor of foods and nutrition
Why is nutrition important in today’s society? This course will examine how nutrition affects health and life in general. The seminar format will highlight visiting experts as well as class presentation of articles (including popular stuff) about today’s science followed by a class discussion of the relationship between nutrition and health. This seminar will enhance the understanding of the many relations of nutritional science to society, and how nutritional needs change throughout the lifespan and during stress and exercise, as well as of the factors affecting risk of chronic disease, including family history, health behaviors, and food intake.
The Obesity Epidemic: Man AND Man’s Best Friend
Instructors: Ellen Evans, associate professor of kinesiology, and Cynthia Ward, professor of veterinary medicine
The obesity epidemic is our greatest public health challenge, with children being of the highest concern. It is well documented that parent weight status predicts risk for childhood obesity from both nature (genetic) and nurture (environment) factors. But have you also heard the expression that dogs resemble their owners? Our companion animals are similar to children in that the owner largely determines lifestyle choices in terms of eating and physical activity patterns. This course will review the parallel between humans and companion animals (dogs and cats) in the following: 1) energy balance determinants, 2) diagnosing obesity, 3) clinical diseases associated with obesity, especially type 2 diabetes mellitus, and 4) treatment strategies. Although some seminar sessions will include lectures and discussions led by Professors Evans and Ward, the majority of the sessions will include lab tours and demonstrations, group discussions, in-class debates regarding current issues, and reflective writing assignments.