With the generous support of the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust, we are advancing a set of innovative out-of-the box projects that provide new models for how we can effectively, economically, and meaningfully address obesity. By combining the domain expertise of the many outstanding scientists at ASU and Mayo while embracing new technologies, new forms of public-partnerships, and the spirit of entrepreneurship and transdisciplinarity, we are developing completely new approaches to solve this incredibly complex challenge. While our focus begins at home with devising solutions that work for ASU students, Mayo Clinic patients, and a range of communities in Maricopa county and Arizona, the vision is ultimately globally transformative in scope. Good solutions must be scalable and they must be sharable.
PHOENIX YOUTH PROJECTS
For the children who are most vulnerable in society, such as because of homelessness or immigrant status, childhood obesity is just one issue of many. How to we best develop interventions that work for children and their families who are already coping with so much? We currently have two potentially scalable test projects being run locally that address this especially challenging problem. In one we are partnering with FitPhx
and the Office of the Mayor of Phoenix
and our own ASU student interns to redesign public libraries as physical places that help children learn health. In another, we are partnering with local organization Streetlight
to develop and test interventions that better support the needs of homeless youth specifically. For information about these projects contact Samantha Calvin.
POST-BARIATRIC EXPERIENCES PROJECT
Surgical treatments for obesity like bariatric surgery promise rapid weight loss for the very obese, and Mayo Clinic is a leader in this field. Yet, and for reasons not related to quality of medical care, many people struggle to maintain the benefits of the surgery over the long term. This appears in part to be linked to the profound attendant changes in people's social and emotional lives as they lose weight, and particularly the transition from the identity of “fat person” to “thin person” is a very challenging part of the process for many. Using insights from social science, including ethnography, this longitudinal project will focus on how people cope with the complex physical and social changes that happen after surgery for many years, to identify strategies that help make lifelong healthy weight maintenance less of a personal and medical struggle. For information on this project, contact Alexandra Brewis Slade
The ASU-HealthVault Project is about finding the best, easiest way to help people make good health decisions in their daily lives by knowing the effects of those choices. While many of us track our health data such as exercise, weight, or calories using either old-fashioned pen or paper or smartphone apps, integrating those data to make good, easy health decisions that work is very tricky.
Within the broader community, those collective data are an extremely powerful tool for determining how to build better health systems and environments, but we have few good existing models for how to harness that knowledge for the public good.
Already piloted on campus, and launching in spring 2014 for all students, ASU is partnering with Microsoft HealthVault
to provide an integrated system for all our students to track and get personal feedback their everyday diet, exercise, sleep, and stress status. HealthVault allows students to connect to multiple wireless technologies in a way that stores, and importantly, makes sense of how their choices are affecting their overall health profile.
Mayo Clinic’s NEAT-Lab
is developing an active@asu
branded accelerometer that will measure everyday exercise and sleep, and we are working with PRECOR
to measure student exercise in the recreation centers and ARAMARK
to track food use in the dining halls. Wireless kiosks that measure BMI are located in the residence halls.
Through partnership with ASU’s Complex Adaptive Systems (CAS) initiative
, these data can be mined across the total student community to track emerging and otherwise often un-seeable health trends and tap the collective experience of students to innovate how we support health promotion on campus and beyond. The vast array of ways we can use these data range from personalized, and hence more meaningful, health messaging to enhancing amenities on campus that best promote physical and mental health.
This project is now managed by EOSS: for information about this project contact Linda Glover
THE HEALTHY CAMPUS PROJECT
Most of ASU’s thousands of freshman live together in residential communities on our four campuses. Freshman year is a time of great changes in how people are making decisions about how they are eating, sleeping, and active, in ways that set the stage first for their academic success and then ultimately the rest of their independent adult lives. Through partnership with ASU’s outstanding BARRETT THE HONORS COLLEGE
, we are developing new models for the Active Dorm, a place where the “freshman 15” is unknown and outstanding academics are enhanced by healthy lifestyles. The Active Dorm concept includes redesigning resident hall rooms (such as with sit-to-stand desks that encourage more movement), rethinking how food is presented in dining halls, using technology to encourage adequate sleep, and finding neutral ways to talk with undergraduates about weight gain so conversations are productive rather than judgmental. Our Provost’s Health Leadership Fellows, competitively selected from the Barrett The Honors College students, help lead our initiatives in this area. Part of this project involves addressing the stigma around obesity and weight among students, and our surveys show campus rates are typically high. For information about this project contact Samantha Calvin.
OBESITY SOLUTIONS FUNDING CHALLENGE
Given the enormous scale and complexity of obesity in the US and increasingly globally, we benefit greatly from grant support to come up with innovative solutions. However, because the level at which even the very best solutions must be scaled to impact are so very massive, effective solutions will ultimately need to be revenue positive. To this end, an important aspect of Obesity Solutions is finding and supporting the best entrepreneurial projects. The weight loss industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise dominated by product and services that usually fail when viewed in the longer term, based on bad or no science. People struggling with their weight deserve better, and the Obesity Solutions challenge is about encouraging thoughtful innovation with an end goal of actually solving obesity. We manage this as a partnership with ASU’s Skysong
, who assist with new company start up mentorship. For information about this project, contact Deborah Williams
ARIZONA SCHOOLS NUTRITION EDUCATION PROJECT
Lead by ASU’s School of Nutrition and Health Promotion (SNHP)
in partnership with Arizona schools, this project seeks to create outstanding models for nutrition education. Harnessing the incredible energy of ASU’s outstanding undergraduates as partners, ASU Nutrition majors work as interns in schools, and partner with SNAP faculty in the iterative improvement of nutrition education in youth across diverse communities in Maricopa county. For information about this project contact Michelle Cauwels