Baruch College Researchers Offer Insight and Perspective on America’s Obesity Epidemic

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(New York, NY, July 19, 2010) A recently released report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Trust for American Health provides new data on the alarming levels of obesity in American today. The report includes a state-by-state breakdown of obesity rates for adults and notes that “the rise in obesity has been stunningly rapid” with 34% of the U.S. population now classified as obese vs. just 15% in 1980.

Two Baruch College researchers, Angela Pinto, a psychologist, and Diane Gibson, an economist, have studied obesity issues from behavioral and environmental perspectives and can offer valuable insight into the various strategies for combating this epidemic. Health experts agree that the rise in obesity has no single cause but is the result of complex changes in population trends, lifestyles, and eating habits

Dieting:  What Works?  Clinical and Behavioral Approaches

Angela Pinto, Associate Professor of Psychology at Baruch College’s Weissman School of Arts & Sciences, is currently studying the efficacy of Weight Watchers, the most widely known and accessible of all the commercially available weight-loss programs.  A Harvard PhD in clinical psychology, Professor Pinto has studied obesity in the wider context of eating disorders.  Her research has looked at successful weight loss maintenance in relation to methods of weight loss as well as motivational predictors of weight loss outcomes.

The Social and Neighborhood Environment:   Availability and Choice

Diane Gibson, Associate Professor of Public Affairs, has done extensive research on demographic aspects of obesity.  Her work has focused on the neighborhood food environment, including the proximity of supermarkets, small grocery stores, and fast-foot outlets as these affect obesity rates. Gibson’s work on the neighborhood food environment as a determinant of food choices will be published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Public Health.  She has also conducted research on food stamps and “food insecurity” as predictors of obesity in adults and children.

CONTACT: Jennifer Pauly;
                646-660-6129;
                Jennifer.pauly@baruch.cuny.ed

                Zane Berzins
                646-660-6113
                Zane.Berzins@baruch.cuny.edu