The Obesity Epidemic: What Is It and How Do We Fix It?

Fairfield University hosts the former executive director of the America Obesity Association to discuss the growing epidemic in the U.S.

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (November 2, 2015) — According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), obesity is a chronic disease; over one-third of U.S. adults are obese and approximately 17% of children aged 2-19 are obese.

On Wednesday, November 11, at 5 p.m., Morgan Downey ’68, former executive director of the American Obesity Association, will address what our society does and does not understand about obesity with his talk, “Obesity at 30,000 feet,” in the Fairfield University Kelley Center Presentation Room. The event free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the University’s Integrated Health Studies Initiative (ISHI).

“Obesity is one of the most significant health issues facing our nation today,” said Dr. Shelley Phelan, professor of biology and program director of the health studies minor. “It is a very complex problem involving biology, evolution, behavior, environment, societal influences, public policy and the current healthcare system. It illustrates the truly interdisciplinary nature of the causes and consequences of various human health conditions.”

The issue is an appropriate one for consideration by the Integrated Health Studies Initiative, which seeks to bring a diversity of perspectives and expertise to the study of human health. IHSI is an interdisciplinary approach that combines a cutting-edge inter-school health studies curriculum at Fairfield University with exciting new opportunities for applied learning, discovery and student engagement, and community outreach.

Downey took the position as Executive Director of the American Obesity Association (AOA) in the late 1990s. The AOA is an advocacy and educational organization, that seeks to move public opinion and public policy regarding the long-held notion that obesity was exclusively a personal issue and that obesity should be seen as a multi-factorial, chronic disease rather than a flaw of character.

Downey organized the first conference on obesity as a public policy issue in 1999, and has testified before Congressional Committees. In addition, he has approximately 20 professional publications and has been featured in the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, and interviewed on The Today Show and NPR.

For more information, please contact Dr. Shelley Phelan at

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Posted on November 5, 2015

Vol. 48, No. 44

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