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Tackling Obesity Through Science

You've resolved to lose weight this year, but now what? To make a better informed decision, learn about the physiological, behavioral, and social factors that affect your waistline and your health.

Published January 02, 2013

Tackling Obesity Through Science

You've read the statistics: More than one-third of all American adults are obese, as are 17% of all children and adolescents—triple the rate of one generation ago. Obesity contributes to some of the leading causes of preventable death, including Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. Losing weight could improve your health, and you've resolved to do something about it.

But let's face it: it's easier said than done. And with all the conflicting information available, how do you know where to start? Is fat good or bad? What does "obesity," or even "food," really mean? What other factors are at play besides nutrition? From microscopic nutrients to global health initiatives, the Academy here presents some of the most recent scientific findings on health and obesity to help you understand the smorgasbord of factors that affect your waistline, including food, fat, chemistry, society, disease—even where you live.

Food and Physiology

Podcast Series

A Thought for Food

My Dinner with My Dinner: Follow food from the table through the digestive tract
Tiny Amounts: The power of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients
Fire in Your Belly: The importance of fat and sugar in metabolism
Fat Lot of Good: Making sense of fats
Sugar in the Morning: The debate on fructose

The Brain and Obesity

The Brain and Obesity

Stemming from a lecture series at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Kidney Diseases, this Annals volume presents a series of up-to-date reviews that evaluate the role played by the brain in body weight regulation. Free online access.

Brain vs Gut

Brain vs Gut: Can Appetite Be Restrained?

Energy balance over the lifespan varies within a narrow range in most people, yet it reflects a constant competition between energy-storing and energy-using processes. Concomitantly the conflict between autonomic/metabolic and cognitive/behavioral processes renders us physiologically maladaptive. This maladaptation is embodied in the chronic overnutrition syndrome, obesity.

What and How We Eat


Gluttony: Deconstructing Dinner

Explore the origins of the ingredients in some of your favorite guilty pleasure foods, specifically the ones filled with processed ingredients. You'll find out just where those ingredients come from and how they made their way into your diet.

You Are What You Eat

What to Eat

New York University food guru Marion Nestle gives a lesson in decoding food labels, holding big food corporations accountable, and choosing food wisely.

You Are What You Eat

You Are What You Eat: The Long History of Knowing about Our Food, Our Bodies, and Ourselves

Take a historical look at our understanding of food and its effect on the body through the branch of Western medicine known as dietetics, which focused on maintaining and restoring health through regimen, hygiene, balance, and moderation.

Physical and Social Factors


Sloth: Is Your City Making You Fat?

A lack of walkable streets at home and an unparalleled reliance on car commutes may be keeping the U.S. overweight. Join a panel of scientists, urban planners, and fitness experts for a talk on how designing and building better cities and towns may make us a healthier—and leaner—nation.

Nutrition and Physical Activity

Nutrition and Physical Activity in Aging, Obesity, and Cancer: The Third International Conference

The connections of physical and nutritional factors with health and disease, with special attention to the deleterious effects of metabolic dysregulation and obesity as potential mechanisms that amplify the development and proliferation of cancer. Free online access.

Childhood Obesity

New Thoughts about Causes, Prevention, and Treatment of Childhood Obesity

Far from being an individual problem, childhood obesity occurs in the context of a social landscape awash in high-calorie, low-nutrition food, especially for poor populations.

All About Fat

The Good Fat

The Good Fat: Understanding Adipogenesis and Function of Brown Fat

The origin of Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT), which is associated with diet-induced obesity and the effects of aging; how White Adipose Tissue (WAT) may be converted into BAT-like tissue; and how to enable the pursuit of BAT as a therapeutic target.

Fat Tissue

Fat Tissue: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Contrary to the popular understanding that fat is bad, advances over the past several decades have enhanced our understanding of the functional necessities of fat and fat tissue as a key regulator of energy balance and intermediary metabolism and even as a part of appetite regulation.

Obesity, Disease, and Public Health


Super-Sized World: The Global Obesity Epidemic

What is obesity, and what are its global implications? Our panel of public health experts discuss everything from current scientific understandings of overweight and obesity to the clinical, economic, and health policy initiatives that might help to stem the tide of this dangerous epidemic.

Unraveling the Obesity-Cancer Connection

Unraveling the Obesity-Cancer Connection

You've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: the U.S. has a big problem with obesity. But did you know that there are demonstrated links between obesity and all kinds of serious health problems—including cancer?

The Year in Diabetes and Obesity

The Year in Diabetes and Obesity

Includes reviews on central nervous system control of glucose and energy metabolism; circadian disruption and metabolic dysfunction; metabolic syndrome, adipokines, and dementia; and prioritization of care in adults with diabetes and co-existing chronic conditions. Free online access.


Application of Combined 'omics Platforms to Accelerate Biomedical Discovery in Diabesity

What characteristics of obesity lead to diabetes, and how are obese individuals who develop diabetes different from those who do not? Learn how metabolomic, genomic, proteomic, lipidomic, and other 'omic data can be integrated to shed light on the changes in metabolism that occur in obesity and diabetes.

About the New York Academy of Sciences
The New York Academy of Sciences is an independent, not-for-profit organization that since 1817 has been committed to advancing science, technology, and society worldwide. With 25,000 members in 140 countries, the Academy is creating a global community of science for the benefit of humanity. The Academy's core mission is to advance scientific knowledge, positively impact the major global challenges of society with science-based solutions, and increase the number of scientifically informed individuals in society at large. Please visit us online at