Novel engineering approaches to obesity, overweight, and energy balance: Public health needs and research opportunities

Academic Article


  • The obesity epidemic is one of the most rapidly evolving public health problems of our day. At present, 2/3 of American adults and 1/6 of American children and adolescents are considered either overweight or obese. Public health concern about obesity is high and reflects documented increased risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, many forms of cancer, gallbladder disease, and osteoarthritis, and increased mortality from these ailments, especially among the most obese. Innovative engineering technologies are needed to address a large range of problems in energy balance, intake, and expenditure that are associated with the obesity epidemic. Excess adipose tissue, representing fat storage, ultimately derives from an imbalance between energy intake and energy expenditure. Novel sensors, devices, imaging technologies, nanotechnology, biomaterials, and other approaches need to be developed and evaluated through multidisciplinary collaborations between engineers, physical scientists, and scientists with expertise in obesity and nutrition. The goal is to encourage research to develop useful technologies and tools to facilitate research and eventually to support therapeutic advances and behavioral change. Furthermore, the possibility of re-engineering the "built environment" to encourage higher levels of physical activity has been suggested as another promising and important approach to which engineers can contribute (see
  • Authors

    Pubmed Id

  • 19773561
  • Author List

  • Ershow AG; Hill JO; Baldwin JT
  • Start Page

  • 5212
  • End Page

  • 5214
  • Volume

  • 26 VII