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Weight loss and management plague more and more people each year (over one-third of American adults are obese according to the CDC.) In addition, it can be difficult to find the necessary help to turn things around and make lasting lifestyle changes. Read on for a comprehensive look into the obesity epidemic, learn about tips and resources for staying healthy, and explore career opportunities where you can help others achieve their personal weight goals.
Meet the Expert
Martina Cartwright is a registered dietitian (R.D.) with a Ph.D. in Nutritional Science and Biomolecular Chemistry. She has more than 17 years experience in medical education, research, and clinical practice. Dr. Cartwright is a well-known nutrition author and keynote speaker with 20 years' experience in obesity treatment and counseling. She is also an adjunct faculty member at the University of Arizona and works as a biomedical consultant in Scottsdale, Arizona.
The Current State of Obesity
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, annual medical costs for obesity total $147 million. This increasingly common medical condition affects nearly one-third of the current American population, with a higher incidence seen amongst low-income populations. As waistlines continue to expand, the risk of illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and cancer continues to rise. Childhood obesity is a growing concern – children who are overweight early in life are not only much more likely to grow into obese adults but are also at high-risk for diseases previously only seen in aging populations.
While obesity is a global problem, the largest populations of obese individuals tend to be in developed countries where physical activity and access to affordable healthier food choices are low. In the following sections, readers will learn more about obesity, how it is defined; the underlying factors and causes; and the populations it is most likely to affect.
Obesity now affects1 on 6
children and adolescents in the United States.
Children born to obese mothers are twice as likely to be obese and to developtype 2 diabetes
later in life.
Adults with a BMI of25 to 29.9
are considered overweight, while adults with a BMI of 30 or more are considered obese.
The CDC estimates approximately112,000
deaths are associated with obesity every year.
The Harvard School of Public Health defines obesity as a way of describing when an individual has too much body fat. To be defined as obese, a person must have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater, while those considered overweight have a BMI of 25-29.9. Higher BMIs can be categorized into classes, with individuals with a BMI of 40 or more a class III. According to a 2014 study published by The Lancet, America topped the list of countries with the highest percentages of obesity in the world, with China, India, Russia, and Brazil filling out the top five.
(BMI 18.5 to 24.9)
(BMI 25 to 29.9)
Obese Class I
(BMI 30 to 34.9)
Obese Class II
(BMI 35 to 39.9)
Obese Class III
(BMI 40 or more)
Overall, nearly 35 percent of all American adults are considered obese, though certain races have higher percentages: 47.8 percent of Black adults and 42.5 percent of Latino adults are obese. Socioeconomic status has been shown to play a large role in the likelihood of becoming obese. Researchers have highlighted numerous reasons for this disparity, including the higher cost of healthy foods, lack of access to fresh fruits and vegetables, and living in areas that are unsafe for undertaking physical activity.
Causes of Obesity
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there are numerous causes for obesity. The most common factors are discussed below.
|Behavior||Regularly consuming high calorie foods and large portions and not getting the recommended weekly amount of physical activity, can soon add up to extra pounds.|
|Community Environment||Reports have shown that individual's communities, homes, schools, and workplaces can all have positive or negative effects on their health. As an example, communities without proper sidewalks or trails preclude individuals from walking or biking like those in cities with proper provisions.|
|Genetics||While genetic changes in populations don't occur quickly enough to be blamed for the epidemic, genes can play a role in how a person's body responds to activity and calorically dense foods. For instance, some people may be more likely to have higher levels of hunger due to genes.|
|Disease||A number of illnesses may cause weight gain, including Cushing's disease and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).|
|Drugs||Certain medications can also cause individuals to gain weight. Common drugs linked to weight gain include antidepressants and steroids.|
Childhood obesity is climbing at an alarming rate – over the past three decades, the numbers have tripled. As of 2012, one in three American children is overweight or obese. In addition to the immediate health concerns presented, obesity experts have the concern that the next generation could be the first in modern history to live fewer years than their parents' generation. The first step to reversing the childhood obesity epidemic is education.
What Is Childhood Obesity?
Also known as pediatric obesity, childhood obesity occurs in both children and adolescents whose weight exceeds the healthy range for his or her height and age.
Childhood obesity is particularly dangerous because it is associated with many serious medical conditions that once only plagued adults, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other illnesses. It can also lead to depression and a lack of self-esteem.
Childhood obesity is also measured by Body Mass Index (BMI), although the calculations are slightly different than the adult equation. Rather than simply entering height and weight, as is the protocol with adults, children and teens use an age and gender-specific calculation, sometimes called BMI-for-age. Because children's bodies change so rapidly during these years, measurements need to be judged against the percentile ranges for their age and gender group.
According to the most recently conducted National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 16.9 percent of all American children are classified as obese. As with adult populations, certain ethnic groups tend to have a higher incidence of obesity with 20.2 percent of Black children and 22.4 percent of Latino children classified as obese. The State of Obesity cites that people of color often reside in economically challenged areas where there is less access to affordable healthy foods and safe places to exercise
Some parents struggle to identify their children as obese, especially when compared to peers rather than to medical standards of healthy weight. Parents of children struggling with weight gain can try a few different strategies to encourage healthy habits at an early age. The following table breaks down these strategies by age group:
|Newborn – Age 1||Studies have shown that breastfeeding may contribute to better weight management, as children who have been breastfed tend to be more aware of internal hunger signals and are better able to control portions. Additionally, flavors travel through breast milk; some research has shown that nursing mom's who eat fruits and veggies are more likely to have children that like them.|
|Ages 1 – 5||Food habits are formed in early childhood through introduction of a variety of textures, colors and flavors. This is the perfect age to instill good habits, both when choosing food and in being physically active. This is also a good time to begin limiting screen time.|
|Ages 6 – 12||Building upon the lessons taught earlier, parents can encourage physical activity through participation in individual or team sports, while family time can also involve fun physical activities such as bike rides or walking the family dog. Kids at this age can learn to make basic healthy foods and snacks on their own.|
|Ages 13 – 18||As adolescents gain more independence and try to emulate their peers, they may find themselves going through the fast-food drive-thru a bit too frequently. Encourage teens to pack their own lunches and learn how to make healthier versions of their favorite fast foods. Students at this age can also build upon their existing level of physical activity and use social media to motivate themselves to be more active. Studies have shown that individuals are influenced by others' exercise habits and perceived social support regarding exercise. Today, exercise apps allow users to track and showcase their own activity/accomplishments as well as compare their stats for friendly competitions with friends.|
According to a 2015 Gallup poll, 27.7 percent of American adults are now considered obese, up from 27.1 percent in 2013 and 25.5 percent in 2008. Unlike Centers for Disease Control estimates of obesity, the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index used respondents' self-reported height and weight to calculate body mass index (BMI). To be classified as obese, an adult's BMI must be 30 or above. Since the 2008 study, American seniors have seen the highest rise in obesity with a four percent increase.
Measuring Adult Obesity
Harvard's School of Public Health notes a variety of ways to measure adult obesity. The most common include:
|Body Mass Index (BMI)||These calculations are based on height and weight and can be determined using BMI tables and online tools.|
|Waist Circumference||This is often used to assess abdominal obesity and is based on the circumference of the abdomen at the natural waistline.|
|Waist-to-Hip Ratio||Also used to calculate abdominal obesity, this measurement is calculated by measuring the waist and largest part of the hips, then dividing waist by hip measurements.|
|Skinfold Thickness||Calipers are used to pinch a portion of skin and the layer of fat underneath at specific points on the body. A percentage of body fat can be calculated from these measurements.|
|Underwater weighing||Involves weighing individuals underwater to assess body volume, density, and fat percentage.|
Factors Affecting Adult Obesity
While obesity rates have not changed significantly since 2008, African Americans have the highest levels of obesity among major demographic groups, at 35.5 percent in 2014. The Latino population also has higher levels of obesity: with one study indicating a 77 percent obesity rate in Latino adults.
Obesity rates are also greater than 30 percent for middle-aged Americans earning less than $36,000 annually. Amongst the young and those earning at least $90,000 per year, the numbers drop to 17.7 and 23.1 percent, respectively.
Other factors leading to higher levels of obesity include access to healthcare, the ability and access to make healthy eating choices, access to safe areas to be physically active, and income.
Health Consequences of Obesity
In addition to diminished well-being, obesity has many other health consequences. The World Health Organization has identified numerous areas for concern, including:
|Effects of Obesity||Explanation|
|High Blood Pressure||The Framingham Heart Study found that excess body weight accounted for approximately one in four cases of high blood pressure in adults participating in the study. High blood pressure can lead to numerous other health problems such as coronary heart disease, heart failure, stroke, and kidney failure.|
|Heart Disease||As BMIs rise, so does the risk for heart disease. As plaque builds up inside arteries, it becomes more and more difficult for blood to make its way through the heart, leading to either angina or a heart attack.|
|Sleep Apnea||Those with sleep apnea experience pauses in their breathing or shallow inhalations while sleeping. This typically occurs in individuals with abdominal obesity or extra fat around their neck. As fat takes up more space around the neck, the airway is narrowed, making it difficult to breathe properly.|
|Musculoskeletal Disorders||Extra weight means joints and bones are under increased stress and pressure Joint pain and osteoarthritis commonly occur in the knees, hips, or lower back when connective tissue between joints wears thin.|
|Cancer||Overweight or obese individuals have higher risks for certain types of cancer, including colon, breast, endometrial, and gallbladder cancer|
|Gallstones||These stony masses form in the gallbladder and cause stomach or back pain. Obese individuals are at higher risk to develop gallstones.|
Insulin is a hormone that allows glucose to enter cells where it is used as energy. Diabetes occurs when the body either cannot produce insulin or the body is resistant, or non-responsive, to the insulin produced by the pancreas. Lack of insulin response results in increased blood sugar or glucose, the hallmark of diabetes. Type I diabetes requires insulin and typically develops in early childhood. Type II diabetes is often called non-insulin dependent diabetes and is frequently associated with obesity and sedentary lifestyle.
According to Stanford Medicine, obesity is one of the most common risk factors for developing pre-diabetes, a condition of high blood sugar that is not high enough to be classified as diabetic. Pre-diabetics who remain sedentary and overweight may develop Type 2 diabetes. Approximately 80 percent of those who develop Type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. Other contributing factors to diabetes that are also commonly associated with excess weight include:
Reports suggest that individuals should engage in physical activity three times a week. Those who don't are at greater risk for diabetes.
High Blood Pressure
If an individual has a blood pressure of 140/90mm Hg or higher, their likelihood of developing pre-diabetes is greater than normal.
Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels
Those with low levels of HDL cholesterol or high levels of triglycerides are at increased risk for diabetes.
Other factors that may be associated with the development of obesity related diabetes are family history, race, and a history of gestational diabetes.
All symptoms result from elevated levels of blood sugar and may include constant thirst, frequent urination, blurred vision, exhaustion, dry skin, unintentional weight loss, infections and wounds that take longer to heal than usual.
Diabetes is diagnosed based on the clinical signs listed above and blood sugar or glucose test results; there are two types of blood glucose tests. If asked to fast for 8 hours prior to the blood draw, the fasting plasma glucose level will be tested. If the result is higher than 126 mg/dl, this may indicate diabetes. Similarly, if the casual plasma glucose (non-fasting) level is above 200 mg/dl, diabetes may be suspected. These tests may be drawn multiple times over a series of days to ensure an accurate reading and to confirm diagnosis of diabetes.
While Type 2 diabetes is typically viewed as incurable, there are a variety of treatments available, including changes in lifestyle and medication.
|Nutrition||While everyone with diabetes should consult with a medical professional to develop a personalized meal plan, common rules tend to include eating high fiber foods, limiting added fats, sugar, and salt, and limiting carbohydrates to 40 to 50 percent of overall calories.|
|Exercise||Physicians and diabetes consultants can help develop a plan for incorporating more exercise, even if this means starting with a few minutes of walking each day.|
|Medications||Several options exist for controlling diabetes. Oral medications are widely used for individuals with Type 2 diabetes, while those with Type 1 use insulin injections or a pump.|
10 Tips for Prevention & Treatment
There are many different prevention techniques for avoiding obesity. According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Harvard's School of Public Health, some of the top recommendations include:
Experts recommend at least 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, including activities like swimming or fast walking.
Eating healthy foods
The key is to consume nutrient-dense, calorically low foods, including lots of fruits and vegetables; lean protein, and whole grains. Consuming small, frequent meals throughout the day is recommended to keep blood sugar in check and to reduce food cravings.
Studies have shown that lack of sleep can slow the metabolism, resulting in added pounds. Adults should aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
Limit screen time
Sitting in front of televisions, computers, or other devices for extended periods of time can slow blood flow. Individuals should try and limit television to one hour per day, while those who work in offices should get up from their desks each hour and move around.
Unneeded stress has been shown to activate ghrelin, also known as the “hunger hormone.” Cortisol, a stress hormone, fuels the appetite for fatty and sugary foods; in addition it encourages fat to be deposited in the abdomen. Activities such as meditation, yoga, and deep breathing can help decrease stress levels.
Limit tempting foods
Everyone has a food that triggers excessive consumption. By keeping these out of your home or office, they become less of a temptation. Practice portion control.
Often, weight gain is gradual, creeping up in small, unnoticeable increments. Monthly weigh ins can help determine if the pounds are water weight or weight due to overeating. But keep in mind, muscle weighs more than fat; so if pumping iron, the scale might not budge but clothes will fit better.
While the temptation to indulge on the weekends or during vacations can be high, it's best to try and maintain a healthy eating plan as much as possible, or return to healthy eating as soon as possible thereafter.
Pack up leftovers
In addition to commercially prepared food being calorically denser than food prepared at home, portion sizes in American restaurants are larger than those in other countries. Ask for half your meal to be packed up for later.
Eat at the table
Studies have shown that those who eat in front of their televisions or computers mindlessly consumer more calories than those who focus solely on their meal. Try and sit at the table and concentrate on eating rather than multitasking.
While prevention is always the best strategy, there are also steps to treat obesity and lose weight healthfully. Some of the most effective include:
Practice a healthy diet
Though fad diets come and go, research has proven time and again that the key is to consume fewer calories than are being burned on a daily basis. Dietitians can help create a meal plan suited to individual needs. The goal is to eat well most of the time.
Whether maintaining or seeking to return to a healthy weight, exercise is key. In addition to burning calories, exercise also builds lean muscle, which helps burns calories more effectively.
Set realistic goals
People don't become obese overnight; in the same way, it takes time to lose weight. For adults, experts recommend trying to lose between five and 10 percent of their current weight over six months at a rate of one to two pounds per week.
Practice healthy lifestyle habits
For those who normally head straight for the television after work, encourage them to go for a walk instead. Rather than heading to the break room vending machine for an afternoon snack, pack fruit each morning.
Keep track of your diet and exercise
Keeping a record of foods consumed and exercise patterns will not only motivate individuals to stay on track, it can also help them to understand problem times or areas for improvement.
Make small changes that add up
Extra calories can be burned by taking the stairs rather than the elevator, parking at the far end of the lot, or getting off one stop early if using public transportation. All of these small changes will add up.
Get regular check ups
Often after six months of weight management, weight loss will occur at a slower pace. It's important to consult with medical professionals to ensure weight is being lost in a healthful manner and to seek professional advice on how to accelerate weight loss.
Seek counseling or support
For some, there may be underlying emotional or behavioral issues related to eating and weight gain. Counseling can help in understanding the root causes, while support groups can help people stay on track.
Ask your doctor about medication
There are a number of prescriptions that, alongside healthy eating and exercise, can help individuals that are struggling to lose weight.
Ask your doctor about bariatric surgery
While surgery should not be one's first option unless recommended by a medical professional, there are surgical procedures that limit the amount of food an individual is able to consume. Some of the most common include gastric bypass, gastric sleeves, and laparoscopic gastric banding.
Public Health Degrees, Specialties, and Careers
Students interested in assisting obese populations often pursue a degree in public health. These versatile programs, offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels, provide students an opportunity to train for public health careers specializing in obesity and weight management. Some of the most common areas of study include:
This track prepares students to recognize risk factors associated with overweight or obesity; examining environmental, behavioral, social and psychological factors contributing to the condition. In some cases, students in this specialty may focus on specific populations or regions of the world.
Charged with identifying how obesity affects the public, those in this role often have advanced degrees and work to develop preventative measures, such as programs or initiatives focused on healthy living.Research Scientist:
Most positions in this field given the intricate research needs require at least a master's level degree. The position involves designing and developing research plans and methodologies to address specific needs within the obesity research spectrum.
Within this specialty, students learn how to effectively communicate and influence public health education initiatives, on a local and/or global level. The end goal is always kept at the forefront, with students being asked to think about the outcomes in how public healthcare is delivered. It will also help students understand how to best communicate health information to a variety of different audiences.Outcomes Research
With a focus on the end goal, these professionals measure existing programs against statistical data to understand how effective they are. They may also conduct independent research to back up their findings.Obesity Communications Specialist
Often works closely with the public and media outlets to provide relevant and recent information about the latest obesity statistics and healthy lifestyle initiatives. These professionals also sometimes work within advocacy or education initiatives to ensure all populations understand how to properly care for themselves.Obesity & Chronic Disease
Throughout this specialty, students will learn about obesity through a spectrum of perspectives, incorporating epidemiological, sociological, economic, and policy-related theories. Students will also undertake both basic and applied research, understanding how obesity contributes to other diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. At risk populations are given special consideration.Obesity Prevention Coordinator
This position frequently supports increased awareness of healthy eating and physical activities among populations most at risk for obesity, including low-income areas or neighborhoods with limited access to healthy foods or safe areas to exercise. Activities may include educating, working one-on-one with individuals, or leading workshops.Bariatrician
Working directly with bariatric surgeons, individuals in this role assist in surgical weight loss procedures by performing pre-op medical screenings, post-op follow-up services, and other non-surgical tasks.Diet & Nutrition
This area of study prepares students to educate communities about dietary choices. The most innovative programs will draw from the latest research on the obesity epidemic and equip students with the skills to communicate the connections between food and health.Nutritionist or Registered Dietitian
With an in-depth understanding of the dietary needs of varied demographics, nutritionists and registered dietitians may work one-on-one to create individualized healthy meal plans or work in the public to advocate and educate about balanced diets.
Nutrition Public Relations Professional
Many food companies will hire dietitians to assist in their public relations and community partnership initiatives to help both media outlets and the public understand how a company's products measure up against national nutrition guidelines.Get more info on career paths in communications.
Community & Global Health
Whether seeking to work on a local or international level, this concentration focuses on providing students with a diverse spectrum of analytics and practical frameworks to help them serve many different types of communities. The specialization also develops an underpinning understanding of theories and methodologies that will help students navigate many different scenarios.Health & Wellness Manager
A day in the life of a health and wellness manager is never boring, as they are tasked with both analyzing current issues within public health and creating programs to address conditions specific to a particular community. These professionals often work directly with the public, designing and leading health education seminars.Program Analyst
Many organizations like the World Health Organization or other global initiatives have a robust staff of program analysts to build models and tools to help them understand the effectiveness of existing programs. Many within this field also have a mathematics background in addition to their knowledge of public health.Health Research & Policy
Students who seek to influence how the healthcare system is structured often select this specialization, which focuses on equipping students with the skills needed to create sound research studies and develop materials to encourage greater accountability at the policy level.Obesity Policy Advisor
Analyzes current research and advises on policy for specific initiatives. Often maintains a variety of relationships within both the public health and legislative communities.Grant Manager
Because much of the research conducted on obesity rates and prevention techniques is funded by grants, many nonprofits and governmental agencies seek out grant managers who not only can write well but also have knowledge of the obesity epidemic.Food, Nutrition & Health
This specialization is ideal for those who wish to focus on learning about how food and nutrition initiatives affect health on a larger scale. Many graduates often go on to work directly with populations by designing and implementing nutrition programs and policy to bring awareness and raise the nutritional awareness of diverse groups.Garden Educator
Working directly with local communities, garden educators are responsible for planting and growing gardens and using the garden to teach residents and school children about fresh foods. They may facilitate workshops, after-school clubs, or other community initiatives.Lifestyle & Weight Management Consultant
Typically working one-on-one with clients, consultants create individualized programs to help clients realize their weight loss goals through increased activity levels and consumption of healthier foods. They may help people examine their current lifestyles to identify areas to be more active or make better eating decisions.Public Health Nutrition
In addition to learning about how food choices dictate health outcomes, students learn many practical applications, such as program development, intervention strategies, research and evaluation methods, policy development and how to complete nutritional assessments.Obesity Program Coordinator
Overseeing the managerial and planning components of obesity prevention and treatment programs, these professionals work with a variety of professional staff and members of the public to create initiatives, programs and materials used by a variety of stakeholders.Community Liaison
Often working under the umbrella of a community foundation or nonprofit, community liaisons are indispensable members of any obesity prevention and awareness team, often developing many significant professional relationships with community leaders and members to bring awareness to obesity initiatives.Community Behavioral Health
The community behavioral health concentration is heavily focused on exploring lifestyles, behaviors and social environments, and how those factors influence our health and nutrition. Whether exploring access to healthy foods, safe areas for physical activities, or creating programs to encourage nutrition initiatives, students in these concentrations graduate with a wealth of knowledge to help address obesity issues and concerns.Behavioral Scientist
Whether working within social neuroscience, psychology or cognitive functions, behavioral scientists study how environments and lifestyles affect behaviors which lead to illnesses, including those contributing to obesity.Obesity Consultant
Whether working with healthcare organizations or governmental agencies, obesity consultants both create and develop plans for implementing policies to improve obesity rates within communities. These consultants may also be responsible for monitoring and inspecting implementation procedures.
Other Careers Where You Can Fight Obesity
Those looking to combat obesity in a professional capacity can find a variety of suitable careers outside the public health arena.
Health & Wellness
With their knowledge of anatomy and physical fitness, personal trainers can help clients reach or maintain healthy bodyweights. Personal trainers make specialized fitness regimens to help clients create and meet health goals, and an understanding of both skeletal and muscular systems allows personal trainers to make sure workout routines are safe and within their clients' capabilities.
Physical therapists' advanced understanding of anatomy allows them to create safe physical health plans with their clients, particularly those with limited mobility. Physical therapists may help clients who are obese increase their physical activity and lose weight without causing pain or injury. They can also help clients stay fit after surgeries or injuries.
Chefs are in an excellent position to combat obesity. By providing healthy meals at their restaurants or for personal clients, chefs help customers reduce their fat and sugar intake while providing key nutrients. Chefs can also fight childhood obesity by helping schools create better menus and by teaching kids about healthy eating habits.
By choosing to provide health-conscious meal options in their restaurants, restaurant managers can help reduce and prevent obesity. Restaurant managers have the ability to promote healthy options, initiate menu changes, control portion sizes and see that nutritious ingredients fill their kitchens.
Although it can be difficult to approach a student about his or her weight, school counselors can be vital in helping children and adolescents fight obesity. By addressing health issues to students and their families in a safe, nurturing environment, school counselors provide support and promote positive health changes.
Not only do P.E. teachers directly engage students in exercise, they can also foster a lifelong interest in physical health by making activities fun and improving the self-confidence of their students.
Other Careers Where You Can Fight Obesity
A variety of scholarships are available for those who wish to pursue an obesity specialty within their public health degree. Some of these include:
American Council on Exercise
The Ash Hayes Scholarship was created for students who have a demonstrated passion for helping youth adopt healthy lifestyles and prevent obesity.
Best Price Nutrition
Offers students interested in pursuing degrees related to nutrition and/or health and wellness a one-time scholarship.
The Innovative Ideas for Health and Wellness Scholarships are open to students interested in health and wellness and includes a required essay about the largest contributing cause of obesity in America.
This organization offers a variety of scholarships for minority college students to study nutrition and related topics such as obesity at the postsecondary level.
Research Leadership Scholarships are awarded to students working towards a future career focused on treatment and prevention of obesity.
These scholarships are for students who wish to attend academic conferences focused on learning more about obesity and adipose tissue biology.
The Obesity Action Coalition
Provides numerous scholarships through the Weigh In for A Healthy Change Scholarship Program.
After Graduation: Potential Employers
Public health graduates interested in pursuing a career in obesity have a wealth of options from which to choose. Below are some of the top employers who typically hire PH graduates with expertise and knowledge relevant to the obesity epidemic.
Private Sector Employers
American Society of Bariatric Physicians
This member organization is the leading association for doctors and healthcare providers who treat parents affected by obesity and related issues.
This GMO-free and organic food company is the largest provider of healthy baby and children's food, setting them on a path to make smart choices about food from an early age.
Long known for producing interactive children's products, the tech company is working to address childhood obesity through LeapBand, a kids' fitness monitoring system that keeps track of activity levels in fun ways.
NV works with nutritional organizations to create interactive content for children that encourages healthy eating habits at an early age.
This organization serves more than 75 million consumers across the world everyday with food and is committed to serving nutritious foods that promote health and wellness.
Public Sector Employers
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
The CDC works tirelessly to help protect and inform Americans about medical conditions and illnesses, including providing significant research and information about obesity in both adults and children.
Created by First Lady Michelle Obama, this initiative focuses on preventing and eliminating childhood obesity by encouraging youth to be more active.
National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
Obesity creates higher risk levels for numerous other illnesses, including those affecting the heart. The NHLBI promotes obesity prevention and treatment through clinical studies, research and awareness activities.
Weight-control Information Network
Operating as part of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, WIN provides individuals, health professionals and media with relevant, up-to-date research on obesity, weight control, activity and nutrition topics.
Campaign to End Obesity
CEO brings together leaders from industry, academia and public health to educate policymakers and advisors on the information they need to make informed decisions about policy changes relating to obesity.
This childcare advocacy group is focused on treating and preventing illness in children and adolescents; they have been working on a multi-sector approach to address obesity since 2004.
Obesity Action Coalition
This 50,000+ member organization focuses on both advocating for those who struggle with obesity and providing resources to help prevent and treat the epidemic.
The Obesity Society
The three main tenets of OB are research, education and action. The member-based organization hosts a variety of meetings and events, provides educational resources, and offers certification courses on obesity-related topics.
Shape Up America!
In operation since 1994, SUA both raises awareness about obesity as a health issue and provides up-to-date information and research on maintaining a healthy weight.
There are several resources available for those interested in learning more about obesity, opportunities to get involved, or send donations to trustworthy organization. Below are examples of such resources:
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality
Comparative effectiveness review of childhood obesity prevention programs.
American Psychological Association
How parents can confront childhood obesity through environmental change.
Harvard School of Public Health
School obesity prevention recommendations.
Institute of Medicine of the National Academies
How communities play a role in preventing childhood obesity.
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
How we can all play a role in ending childhood obesity.
Action for Healthy Kids
Every Kid Healthy Pledge
Healthier Kids, Brighter Futures
National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month
Inspira Health Network
S.T.E.P.S. for Kids
Just for Kids
The nation's leading obesity prevention program.
A government initiative to get kids to be more active
Harvard Health Publications
Obesity: Unhealthy and unmanly
Kaiser Family Foundation
Male prevalence of obesity
National Center for Biotechnology Information
Study: Impact of obesity on male fertility
Obesity Action Coalition
Weight issue in men: how obesity socially affects men
Fighting back against male obesity
Minority Men's Health Initiative
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity
Weight management for men through professional football clubs
Fat to fit plan
Real Men Cook
An initiative with a focus on healthy eating
Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Obesity and women's health
Kaiser Family Foundation
Prevalence of female obesity graph
National Center for Biotechnology Information
The impact of female obesity on the outcome of fertility treatment
Why do obese women earn less than thin women?
New York Magazine
A strange new insight into female obesity
An initiative to get Americans, including women, moving more
New York Magazine
A strange new insight into female obesity
National Older Woman's League
Provides resources for overweight women who are 40+
Five safest exercises for overweight women
Empowers women in a variety of ways, including initiatives to stay active
- Global Fund for Women
- Healthy Women
- Jacobs Institute of Women's Health
- Society for Women's Health Research
- The Women's Initiative
American Psychological Association
African American women at risk
Why are 4 out of 5 black women obese, overweight?
Minority women's health – obesity
Empowers women in a variety of ways, including initiatives to stay active.
African American Collaborative Obesity Research Network
A variety of resources based on research and education
African American Health Collaborative
An excellent example of a community initiative to improve African American health
American Psychological Association
Confronting obesity in African American women and girls
Black Girls Run
A community running group
Empowers black women and girls to move more
National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators
Hispanic obesity: An American Crisis
Public Health Institute
Promising strategies for reducing obesity in the Latino community
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
Addressing nutrition, overweight and obesity among Latino youth
Latino child obesity
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Minority Health
Obesity and Hispanic Americans
A network of nonprofits serving more than two million Latinos throughout the northeast with health programs
Hispanic Health Coalition
Dedicated to improving the overall health of Latinos through education, advocacy and research
Hispanic Health Council
National organization providing research, services, and policy/advocacy initiatives
National Council of La Raza
The largest Hispanic advocacy group in America, supporting a variety of initiatives, including health and wellness
What's behind the low Asian-American obesity rate?
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
South Asian American perspective on overweight, obesity
Harvard School of Public Health
Ethnic differences in BMI and disease risks
National Center for Biotechnology Information
Rationale for redefining obesity in Asians
World Health Organization
Appropriate body-mass index for Asian populations
Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations
Provides information to medically underserved Asian populations and advocates for health and wellness programs.
Asian & Pacific Islander Wellness Center
For LGBTQ Asians, this organization advances health and wellness.
Asian Pacific Health Care Venture
Provides a variety of services and wellness programs for Asian communities.
Asian Health & Service Center
This non-profit serves the Portland, OR region through education, activities, and health and wellness initiatives.
NICOS Chinese Health Coalition
Offers a variety of programming, including one centered around healthy children.
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Seeking a job? These career sites are a great way to search through positions that can help with everything from entry-level work to career advancement. Check out our listing of...
Careers to Combat the Obesity Epidemic How You Can Make a Living Helping Others Achieve a Healthy Weight
From nutritionists to bariatricians, many professionals help others reach a healthy weight. Learn more about these careers and the growing obesity crisis.
Signs You’re Underemployed & How to Change It
A recent study showed that college graduates who start their careers underemployed are more likely to remain underemployed 5-10 years later. Learn how to spot the signs of underemployment and...
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