Abstract for: Modeling the Long Term Dynamics of Obesity as a Societal Epidemic

Obesity has become a serious problem affecting people of all ages, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic status, especially in the last decades. The rapid growth in obesity represents a major public concern because of the negative health consequences of obesity for individuals and the associated health expenses and consequences for the society. The obesity problem is largely due to the increase in the number of sedentary jobs, relatively high prices of healthy food, and the increase in the accessibility of junk food. We constructed a population-level system dynamics model and initialized/calibrated it using 1970ís obesity data of US society. For structural validation, we carried out extreme condition and sensitivity tests that yielded positive results. For behavioral validation, we showed that the model output matches the real obesity data of US society between 1970 and 2010. We simulated the model for 40 more years after 2010 and observed that the prevalence pattern of obesity continues to increase in the near future as well. Finally, we tried three different scenarios with three different policy interventions to alleviate the obesity problem in the future. We show that the complex scenario that includes all three interventions can stop and revert the obesity prevalence.