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Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy

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Volume 6: No. 3, July 2009

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Cover of the July 2009 issue
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As Guest Editor Terry Huang argues, “Effective or sustainable prevention strategies for obesity, particularly in youths, have been elusive since the recognition of obesity as a major public health issue 2 decades ago.” This issue of Preventing Chronic Disease looks at a multilevel obesity model. Behavioral economics suggests that powerful biological and contextual forces make following the usual recommendations of diet and exercise difficult for the individual. Huang and others in this issue frame obesity as a complex system in which behavior is affected by multiple individual-level factors and socioenvironmental factors (ie, factors related to the food, physical, cultural, or economic environment that enable or constrain human behavior). From the individual level to the international level, and with sectors of influence spanning education, agriculture, transportation, urban developments, and media, in addition to the health sector, Huang and his colleagues stress the need for research that cuts across this dynamic landscape.

In this issue we also have a collection of essays from a group of experts in anthropology, law, epidemiology, ethics, and social networking sharing their diverse perspectives on preventing childhood obesity. The articles, coordinated by Donna Stroup, highlight ideas generated at the Symposium on Epidemiologic, Ethical, and Anthropologic Issues in Childhood Overweight and Obesity, held in 2008 at Saint George’s University in Grenada.

Kristen Immoor’s inspiration for this cover draws on ideas of kids and summertime, focusing on technology that influences the way youths socialize, eat, and play. Immoor says, “As neighborhoods become less walkable and traffic becomes more dense, as unhealthy snacks proliferate, as toys become tied to computers and television, and virtual socialization via chat, email, and SMS [short message service] supplants face-to-face communication, it becomes an increasingly complicated task to navigate a child through the maze of choices that lead to good health.” For the cover she illustrates the joyful essence of active, self-directed children’s play superimposed against a maze of environmental factors that influence youth health.

Cover created by Kristen Immoor
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The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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