Our nation is experiencing a public health crisis. Due to its obesity epidemic, children today may be the first generation in the modern era to have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. Our future is at a crossroads. Healthcare costs are rising from the burden of obesity, and the disparities in obesity between social groups compromise the health and upward social mobility of disadvantaged communities. 

The solutions to the complex causes of the obesity epidemic will require a comprehensive understanding. We need to examine how behaviors, environmental exposures, neighborhood factors, school policies, social norms, and population-level policies intersect. Although effective weight loss programs can play an important role in reducing obesity, a broader-based prevention effort is the key to reversing the trend of obesity and ensuring healthy, productive lives at all ages and in all communities. We must find the most successful and cost-effective approaches to confront the epidemic for the benefit of our public health communities.

Given our strengths in research and practice, the Mailman School of Public Health will lead efforts toward interdisciplinary, systems-oriented approaches to obesity prevention and control.  We want to operate as a coordinating infrastructure around which our faculty can engage with the core problems and develop innovative and effective solutions to end America’s obesity epidemic.


The Mailman Obesity Prevention Initiative provides leadership, organizational support, and coordination to foster new scientific approaches to population-level obesity research. Our goal is to discover evidence for effective societal approaches for obesity prevention.

  • Create interdisciplinary working groups to synthesize and evaluate the existing evidence base and identify inferences, knowledge gaps, and, most important, future directions to stop the epidemic

  • Integrate the multiple factors of different scientific systems to identify and address the drivers, determinants, and solutions of energy imbalance and excess weight gain

  • Develop what is necessary, what is sufficient, and what investments are needed to present a meaningful return on investment

  • Sustain research and engage the community and policymakers within and beyond public health, forming coalitions that develop effective solutions

  • Foster collaborative research, expand infrastructure, partner with outside organizations, and generate training opportunities

  • Establish the Mailman School as a go-to knowledge hub—a center of excellence—and a leader in obesity prevention at the population level