What’s really causing our obesity epidemic?

What are the top 10 contributing factors to our nation’s struggle with obesity?

TEDMED’s Great ChallengesTeam Leaders, who address the problem every day from their top posts in advocacy, academia and public health, had varied perspectives on what’s causing this vast, relatively recent, and growing health threat.

A big part of the issue is that we oversimplify the problem, says Joe Nadglowski,  President of the Obesity Action Coalition. Gaining or losing weight is not just a matter of calories in, calories out, he says, but a matter of what does get consumed, and when.

Professor Christine Ferguson of the School of Public Health and Health Services at George Washington University, pointed out that interventions for children’s health may be the most effective way to stem the tide of obesity, and that working at less than peak health impacts our workforce and hence, our economy.

Dan Callahan of the Hastings Center pointed out industry influence as a factor, including resistance to resistance to regulation and taxation of unhealthy food and beverages, and large restaurant and sugared beverage portions.

Maya Rockeymoore, President and CEO of Global Policy Solutions, singled out portion sizes and the easy access to high-fat and sugary foods as causes, while adding that for many neighborhoods, access to healthy food was also a major barrier.

And Rebecca Puhl, Director of Research and Weight Stigma Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University, added agricultural policy, commodities pricing and the built environment to her broad-view perspective on the issues.

Click here see their full responses and comments from the rest of the team members on the Great Challenge of obesity.