Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness

The Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness resides in the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University in Washington, DC. The Redstone Center is led by Director Bill Dietz, MD, PhD, a nationally renowned expert in obesity, nutrition and physical activity. Dietz’s training is in pediatrics and nutritional biochemistry. Prior to joining GW, he was Director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Bill Dietz’s full bio). The Center’s charge, as reflected in its goals, is to implement and evaluate strategies to improve health and to measure outcomes globally, nationally and in the Washington, DC community.

restone_final.jpg“To reverse the obesity epidemic, we must identify and begin to harness the drivers that got us to this point. From the stigma around obesity to inequities in access to healthy foods and safe places to play; from the glut of cheap food that’s nutrient poor and calorie dense to highly marketed sugary drinks -- the forces are many.

Yet the systems that promote an obesogenic environment can be changed. The Redstone Center is uniquely poised to lead efforts that will bend the trajectory toward healthy weight, increased physical activity, better nutrition and the myriad benefits that result."

-Bill Dietz, MD, PhD



Obesity: The Challenges

Rates of obesity in U.S. adults and youth have increased rapidly in the past few decades. Recent declines in obesity prevalence among young children provide some evidence that efforts to address the obesity epidemic are starting to succeed. Obesity appears to be declining in 2 - 5 year old children and has plateaued in older children and adolescents. While this development is positive, the prevalence of obesity is still substantial in the U.S. population: 17% of youth and 37% of adults have obesity, according to the latest CDC obesity prevalence data.

Prevalence¶ of Self-Reported Obesity Among U.S. Adults by State and Territory, BRFSS, 2014

¶Prevalence estimates reflect BRFSS methodological changes started in 2011. These estimates should not be compared to prevalence estimates before 2011.

Source: Behavorial Risk Factor Surveillance System, CDC.
*Sample size <50 or the relative standard error (dividing the standard error by the prevalence)> 30%. Rates based on self-report are lower than those obtained when height and weight are measured.

Prevalence Disparities

The racial and ethnic disparities in the prevalence of childhood and adult obesity are striking. Some 20% of non-Hispanic black youth and 22% of Hispanic youth have obesity, compared to 14% of non-Hispanic white youth nationally. Disparities among women are particularly pronounced; 57% of African American, 46% of Hispanic, and 35% of Caucasian women have obesity.

The Consequences

The burden of obesity has considerable economic and societal costs. Medical care for obesity cost an estimated $147 billion in 2008 dollars -- nearly half of which is borne by Medicare and Medicaid. Individual-level consequences are also significant: People with obesity are at greater risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, and having a shorter lifespan. They also experience social consequences, including barriers in education, biased attitudes from health care providers, stereotypes in the media, discrimination in the workplace, and stigma in relationships.

The Solutions

To reverse the obesity epidemic, interventions must focus not only on helping individuals and populations with obesity get to a healthy weight; our efforts must include significant investments in prevention.

Through local community partnerships, including the Department of Health and the Office of the State Superintendent of Education in Washington, DC, the Redstone Center is developing innovative solutions to address the challenge of obesity in the nation’s capital. Rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes are much higher in certain parts of the city, particularly in Wards 7 and 8. Along with international partners, including co-members of The Lancet Commission on Obesity, on which Director Dietz is a co-chair, the Redstone Center is working to stimulate action on global scale solutions to the interconnected issues of obesity, undernutrition and climate change.