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Global Obesity Prevention Center

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Policy Working Group

When fighting global obesity, much potential lies at the policy level.

Whether from a municipal, state, federal or international level, decision and policy makers are among the best positioned to enact change and promote better health. But it’s hard to solve a problem without a comprehensive understanding of it.

Designed to provide guidance and assistance to nutritional leaders around Baltimore City, the Policy-Level Working Group plays a key role in the efforts of the Global Obesity Prevention Center at Johns Hopkins University.

“We want to engage and facilitate communications and interactions with key stakeholders in the obesity landscape, in hopes of promoting a healthier food environment in Baltimore City,” says Joel Gittelsohn, PhD, director of BeMore Healthy: Communities for Kids, under which the policy group operates. “We want to integrate systems science modeling to inform stakeholders about how they can improve nutrition and decrease obesity throughout their communities.”

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Virtual Baltimore Lab

Where poverty is high, obesity increasingly follows.

With too few local grocery stores and poor availability of fresh produce and healthy options, low income families often have easiest access to the calorie-dense but nutrient-poor foods typically found in convenience stores and carry-outs. That, coupled with a lack of education about nutrition and exercise, is a recipe for poor health and weight problems.

This has proven especially true in urban communities with a high proportion of poor residents. Increasingly, scientists understand that the problem stems from a complicated system of factors, the challenge is to understand the system itself. That, however, is no easy feat. GOPC scientists use computational simulation models to understand complex systems and processes by evaluating the multiple factors at play within them. 

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