This past Wednesday, Nov. 11, Fairfield hosted Morgan Downey ‘68, past executive director of the American Obesity Association at the Aloysius P. Kelley Center for a seminar entitled “Obesity from 30,000 feet.” This seminar, which was open to the public and sponsored by the new Integrated Nursing & Health Studies Initiative, aimed to educate the public about obesity, currently the deadliest disease epidemic plaguing the United States, as well as the rest of the world.
In addition to his past work with AOA, Downey also publishes the Downey Obesity Report, which he includes on his website, www.downeyobesityreport.com, and conducts many forums about obesity to further educate the public. In 2008, he held forums at both the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention, which led obesity to be included on the national platform for the 2008 presidential election.
“Obesity is a global, multi-species problem that affects people of all backgrounds,” said Downey to start off the presentation. “It is relevant in a range of different fields, from health sciences such as biology and nursing, to fields such as communications and engineering.”
Downey’s presentation made use of many relevant statistics. He mentioned that “there are over 2.1 billion people considered overweight in the world, and this obesity epidemic causes 3.4 million premature deaths” from medical complications such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
“No nation in the world has made strides to prevent obesity,” said Downey. Instead, he mentioned, the prevalence of obesity in the world has increased over the years.
Junior Will Lammey thought these facts were of great interest. “I’d say the biggest thing was the multitude of causes for obesity everywhere, how it affects different people in different ways,” he said.
The seminar was also interactive, as Downey would ask members of the audience questions about what they thought caused obesity.
“I thought it was interesting that he did touch upon the idea that most Americans do think it’s better to exercise more and eat less,” said Layra Cintron Rivera ‘18. “I’ve always thought there’s evidence that that’s not true, like he was saying, so I just thought it was interesting that he brought it up as well.”
The issues Downey brought up are important in today’s society, as he stated that “the United States has one of the highest obesity rates in the world.” Downey also said that it is important to understand that the cure for obesity is not necessarily as easy as telling people to eat healthier to lose weight, since obesity is actually triggered by genetics and the environment more than anything else.
“Obesity is not necessarily a death sentence,” said Downey. In order to live a healthier lifestyle, Downey stressed that awareness of the disease must be raised.