Is the environment causing obesity? Taking action to reverse an epidemic
Rebecca E. Lee, PhD
Obesity has become a global crisis. Because obesity rates have been escalating at annually measurable rates, much research money has been devoted to determining the underlying causes. Despite the world’s brightest and best scientific efforts, no single gene or direct pathway explaining obesity has been identified. There has been no significant genetic shift or other biological change in humans in thousands of years. If our genetic profile has remained the same since the obesity epidemic began, what has changed? The answer is both simple and complex. The simple answer is that our environment has changed; the complexity lies in determining which aspects have changed and how we can reverse them.
Take a cutting-edge look of this emerging body of research with applications that can be realistically implemented in your community. In “Is the environment causing obesity? Taking action to reverse an epidemic”, Dr. Rebecca Lee looks at the aspects of our modern environment that lead people to become obese, including the built environment, food accessibility and technology, public policy, sociocultural influences, and media and marketing. She will also share practical ideas to help you start making the first important steps toward change in your own community.
Rebecca E. Lee, PhD, is the founding director of the Texas Obesity Research Center at the University of Houston. Lee is also an associate professor in the department of health and human performance at the University of Houston and holds a courtesy appointment at the University of Texas School of Public Health. She is a community health psychologist who has been principal investigator for numerous federally and privately funded research grants. Her studies have focused on interventions for populations of color, specifically interventions that incorporate social cohesion, ameliorate social injustices, and improve the quality of the neighborhood environment.
Lee serves on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Women’s Health, the American Journal of Health Promotion, and Health Psychology. She has served as a charter member of the community-level health promotion study section of the Center for Scientific Review at the National Institutes of Health and a member and former chair of the Mayor’s Wellness Council Public Policy Committee, which works to improve the health of Houstonians.
Dr. Lee is a fellow of the Society of Behavioral Medicine. She is a member of the Obesity Society and the International Society for Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. She received the University of Houston College of Education Research Excellence Award in 2005 and 2008, and she has been recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a National Health Disparities Scholar. In 2009, her Saving Lives, Staying Active (SALSA) program was given the Outstanding Achievement for a Community Program Award by the Texas Council on Cardiovascular Disease and Stroke.
The barriers to adopting a healthy lifestyle are as varied and complex as the people trying to overcome them. Active Living Partners (ALP) is dedicated to helping people break through those barriers to improve their health and quality of life. These webinars help fitness centers, worksites, senior residences, community health programs, hospitals, and universities empower people to change their health habits.