University of Washington School of Public Health
Strategic Faculty Hires
Obesity, Food, Physical Activity, and Health
The chronic disease of obesity is now a top public health issue. About two-thirds of U.S. adults are overweight or obese, with the disease burden falling disproportionately on disadvantaged minorities and groups. The consequences on health and the associated medical, social, economic, and psychological costs require speedy and effective solutions. Both diet and physical activity play important roles. An understanding of food issues requires a multidisciplinary approach, ranging from diet and nutrition to agricultural economics to the sociology and anthropology of food. An understanding of physical activity also requires a multidisciplinary approach, ranging from the design of buildings, neighborhoods, and cities, to the economic and social factors that determine health behaviors. And since both diet and physical activity have implications beyond public health, ranging from environmental impacts to social equity, a broad, systems approach is required.
Opportunities to build on the work currently being done at the university, within SPH, and in communities:
- The Center for Public Health Nutrition and the Urban Form Lab at the College of Built Environments do significant work in these areas.
- Researchers at the Health Promotion Research Center collaborate with many community partners on obesity prevention.
- Coursework on Public Health and Built Environment and on health impact assessment is currently taught jointly by faculty in the Dept of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences in SPH and in the Department of Urban Design and Planning in the College of the Built Environments. An interdisciplinary graduate certificate program in public health and built environment is currently under consideration.
- Coursework on obesity management is offered as part of professional training leading to the Registered Dietitian credential from the Nutritional Sciences Program with the potential to expand course offerings over time.
- In addition to the significant research on childhood and adult obesity being conducted at SPH, partners at Children’s Hospital, the Pacific Northwest Diabetes Research Institute, Group Health Research Institute, and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center also do research on obesity causes and prevention, dietary and physical activity behavior change at worksites and in communities, and evaluation of health promotion programs.
- Opportunities for policy development and evaluation around obesity and urban design are available through local and state health agencies: Public Health - Seattle & King County, the Snohomish Health District, and the WA State Department of Health.
Advancing the area of obesity, physical activity, the built environment, and food requires expertise in a range of disciplines from epidemiology to psychology, from urban planning to agricultural economics. This area will benefit from broad collaborations across the University and externally; advancing knowledge through research; and applying knowledge to practice through engagement in Seattle, the region, nationally, and/or globally.
If you have questions about the obesity, food, physical activity and health faculty position, please contact the chair of the committee, Professor Andrew Dannenberg email@example.com or Professor Glen Duncan firstname.lastname@example.org