New Fat-Fighting Tactics Show Promise for Combatting Global Obesity Epidemic

In the latest interview series from FutureFood 2050, researchers and thought leaders weigh in on cutting-edge strategies that may help drive down skyrocketing rates of obesity around the world.

CHICAGO, January 21, 2015 – From nutritious foods that fill you up faster to new weight-loss medications to government food taxes, obesity experts predict maintaining a healthy weight may get much easier during the next few decades.

More than 2.1 billion people worldwide are now overweight or obese and at risk for major chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes and heart problems, reported McKinsey & Co. in a November 2014 analysis using data from the World Health Organization (WHO). But new types of evidence-based interventions, such as targeted drug treatments and foods created to be more satiating, may be able to help reverse the upward trajectory of global obesity rates, according to the latest series of interviews from the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) FutureFood 2050 publishing initiative. FutureFood 2050 explores how increasingly sophisticated science and technology will help feed the world’s projected 9 billion-plus people in 2050.

“Food scientists over the years have spent most of their energy on issues of food safety and cost. And they’ve been unbelievably successful,” says Cornell University’s Brian Wansink, who has researched eating behavior, food psychology and food marketing for more than two decades. “Where I see a huge gain is if they start turning their direction toward making food nutrient-advanced, lower-calorie and even more satisfying.”

This month FutureFood 2050 talked to obesity thought leaders with a wide range of potential solutions, including:

  • Dr. Louis Aronne: Director of the Comprehensive Weight Control Center at Weill Cornell Medical College, who contends that obesity must be treated as a disease
  • Julian Mercer: Leading UK obesity researcher and head of the European Full4Health project exploring how to create healthy foods that are more filling
  • Hank Cardello: Head of the Obesity Solutions Initiative at the Hudson Institute and author of the best-selling book “Stuffed: An Insider’s Look at Who’s (Really) Making America Fat and How the Food Industry Can Fix It”
  • Dr. Walmir Coutinho: Brazilian endocrinologist and current president of the World Obesity Federation, who works to help emerging nations combat rising obesity rates
  • Barry Popkin: Global obesity expert and nutrition professor at the University of North Carolina, who believes both government and the food industry need to aggressively push consumers toward healthier diets
  • Brian Wansink: Director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, which researches eating behavior, food psychology and food marketing

FutureFood 2050 is a multi-year program highlighting the people and stories leading the efforts in finding solutions to a healthier, safer and better nourished planet to feed 9 billion-plus people by 2050. Through 2015, the program will release 75 interviews with the world’s most impactful leaders in food and science. The interviews with obesity thought leaders are the 10th installment of FutureFood’s interview series, following sustainability, women in food science, food waste, food security and nutrition in Africa, aquaculture, futurists on food, innovative agriculture Parts 1 and 2, and kitchens of the future.

FutureFood 2050 is a multi-year program highlighting the people and stories leading the efforts in finding solutions to a healthier, safer and better nourished planet to feed 9 billion-plus people by 2050. Through 2015, the program will release 75 interviews with the world’s most impactful leaders in food and science. The interviews with kitchen thought leaders are the ninth installment of FutureFood’s interview series, following sustainability, women in food science, food waste, food security and nutrition in Africa, aquaculture, futurists on food, and innovative agriculture Parts 1 and 2.

Next year, FutureFood 2050 will also debut a documentary film exploring how the science of food will contribute solutions to feeding the world.

For more information, please visit FutureFood2050.com to subscribe to monthly updates, learn more about the project and read the latest news on food science.

About IFT

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Institute of Food Technologists. Since its founding in 1939, IFT has been committed to advancing the science of food. Our non-profit scientific society—more than 18,000 members from more than 100 countries—brings together food scientists, technologists and related professionals from academia, government and industry. For more information, please visit ift.org.

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